PARKERSBURG – Although the West Virginia State Honey Festival is in its 34th year, it has a new group organizing the event this year.
Vickie Marshall, executive director of the Wood County Recreation Commission, said when the former organizers announced they would no longer conduct the festival, the commission decided to take over.
“They elected to disband and we stepped in and decided to use it as a fundraiser for the recreation commission,” she said.
Marshall said despite the change, this year’s organizers are pleased with the way the festival was running.
“We are pleased with our first year,” she said Saturday. “We have 30 canopies, two tents and the pavilion is full. This year we have the chainsaw carver and the beekeeper demonstrations and more.”
Although this year’s festival concludes today at 5 p.m., Marshall said plans are already being made for the 2015 edition.
“Next year our focus will be getting it back to what it was originally intended to be,” she said. “It will be more educational and we’ll get more beekeepers involved and give them room to set up more interactive and hands-on displays for the children.”
John McCrady, of TJ Leather, said despite the change in organizers, the number of people coming through the gates seemed to be about the same as past honey festivals.
“It’s about the same,” he said. “We’ve been here three years in a row. We came several times in the late 1970s and early 1980s when they charged the date every year, sometimes it was in September and others in August.”
Christa Epling, of Ripley, and owner of 60 Grit, a furniture restoring and repurposing business, said she did not think the attendance was down but there were fewer vendors.
“We’ve been here before and there appears to be fewer vendors this year,” she said. “But for us it has been a steady flow.”
“I’ve heard comments about there are fewer food vendors,” said her mother, Janet Davis of Spencer. “It has been a steady flow.”
Kyna Hill, of Mineral Wells, said the festival seemed to be smaller than in past years. She said she attends the festival most years.
“It’s nice this year, it seems a little smaller than it has been. There’s lots of nice things here,” she said. “It’s quality over quantity; the craftsmanship is much better this year.”
Kay Hill, also of Mineral Wells, said she noticed the smaller number of vendors.
“There is less of it,” she said. “I’m used to the great big tents. I don’t know if I think this is better or not, but it is different.”
Marilyn Logue, of Columbus, said she was attending the festival for the first time.
“It’s interesting, all the crafts people who have come out,” she said. “I was interested in seeing a lot of the honey things, so I got to see some of them today.”