Return with us now — to those thrilling days of yesteryear.
— Introduction to The Lone Ranger television show
Like the producers of The Lone Ranger, the organizers of Huntersville Traditions Day invite everyone to “step back with us in time, when life was simple and our traditions began.” Thousands of people accepted the invitation and returned to yesteryear with the good people of Huntersville last Friday and Saturday
Historic Huntersville is a perfect place for a traditional festival. The former county seat of Pocahontas County features several structures dating back to the 1800s, including a
schoolhouse, churches and an old block jailhouse. When the town fills up with traditional artists and craftsmen, it really seems like a trip back in the time machine.
At Huntersville Traditions Day, modern-day experts demonstrated old-time skills like blacksmithing, maple syrup production, apple cider making, quilting, wool spinning, knitting,
weaving, corn grinding and broom making. Musical groups, including Homer Hunter and Mudhole Control, played old-time music at various locations in town.
Best of all for many visitors was a cornucopia of baked goods and other homemade food. A meal of cornbread, beans, cole slaw and macaroni and cheese was available at the Methodist Church for three dollars. Visitors browsed table after table of homemade delicacies, such as bread, cakes, pickles and jellies as they strolled the streets of Huntersville. Old fashioned maple syrup, apple butter and cider could be purchased from the people who made it. It’s no wonder that the festival has grown more popular year after year.
Civil War re-enactment units marched up and down the street and visitors chatted with General Robert E. Lee as he walked about town. The West Virginia History Alive! character was portrayed by Al Stone, of Hinton.
“History is so important to our future,” said Stone. “If you don’t know your history, you’re doomed to repeat it – and how many times do we want to repeat some of the things we’ve done in the past? We should learn from our past. The way we learn from it is living historians – the people who bring it alive.”
Sean and Barbara Schultz were visiting from Toronto, Canada.
“We stayed at Snowshoe last year and really loved the area, so we made a point of coming back,” said Sean. “This year, we’re staying at Chestnut Ridge Bed and Breakfast in Dunmore. We very much enjoy this area. I like to drive and the roads and the scenery here are spectacular. We came a little later this year to enjoy the colors, which have been spectacular. We took the Cass Railroad up to Bald Knob, which was great.
During their most recent visit, the Shultzes read about Huntersville Traditions Day in The Pocahontas Times.
“We came last night for the fashion show, and sat around the campfire with General Lee,” said Sean. “Come today, we said, ‘hey, it was so good last night, let’s go back.’ So, here we are.”
Barbara Schultz described the highlights of her visits to West Virginia.
“It’s always the people, because the people here are very, very friendly,” she said. “We always get a warm welcome and I’ve got to admit – you people know how to eat good down here. So, I can’t come south of the Mason-Dixon without having some good pecan pie and some pumpkin cake and pumpkin rolls. And the breakfasts at the bed and breakfast have been incredible. Yesterday, we had pumpkin pancakes. I told my husband, ‘if you gave me an old, chewy pumpkin, I’d probably eat it.’”
The Schultzes plan to visit Pocahontas County again next year.
Randy Andrick, of Clarksburg, was serving cake at the Methodist Church.
“My wife and I were married in this church in 1970,” he said. “We live in Clarksburg, but when we’re here, we attend the church and we just love working with the people and enjoying the time. The festival is a family tradition. They try to keep the children updated and involved in the history of the families and how they lived a hundred years ago.”
Andrick’s family owns a farmhouse in the Huntersville area, where they escape from cell phones, computers and video games.
“We always try to meet at the old farmhouse on the first day of squirrel season,” he said. “We take the kids that want to go and go out and kill squirrels and clean them when we come in. On Sunday morning, we always get up and make a big pot of hot biscuits and squirrel gravy. We try to keep that tradition going because there’s so many people nowadays that don’t even attempt to teach their young children these ideas. It’s important because children don’t understand what we grew up with. After a meal in the evening, everybody just sits around and talks. That’s a thing of the past nowadays. That’s what keeps the family together.”
Huntersville Traditions Days organizer Susie Landis described the purpose of the festival.
“I think it’s good for the community – good socializing,” she said. “We are not here to make any money. It’s for people to socialize and get together and have a good fall day. It’s a time to remember what Huntersville was at one time. It was a trading post. We need to preserve our history. It’s just like stepping back in time and learning what our ancestors went through and how different it is from this day and time.”
Landis said the festival was more than preserving memories.
“We want to preserve memories and make memories,” she said. “Like those kids over there riding the ponies, that’s something they’ll never forget in their life. I’m big on memories. I love memories.”
The organizer said life was not really more difficult in the past.
“They had a lot less, and we’ve got a lot more,” she said. “But they enjoyed life more than we do.”
The West Virginia Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall was on display on a hilltop overlooking the festival. The Wall arrived in the county on Friday afternoon, escorted by police and a rolling honor guard of motorcycle riders with the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Christian Motorcycle Association. The Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps sponsored the visit and held a memorial ceremony on Saturday afternoon. The Wall was scheduled to depart Huntersville on Saturday afternoon but, due to the large number of visitors, it was held over for an extra day until Sunday afternoon.
The Huntersville Traditions committee has acquired a building and plans to make it a museum. The group is seeking artifacts, documents and any other items related to Huntersville history. Anyone with items they wish to donate can call Tim Wade at 304-799-6460.