Bee festival in Doddridge County this week

WEST UNION – For the second year in a row, the Doddridge County Chamber of Commerce will sponsor the annual Ephraim Bee Festival in West Union at the Cline Stansberry Stadium.

The festival is named after Ephraim Bee, a prominent figure in Doddridge County history.

“He was an early settler who resided in West Union,” Jim Musgrave, a member of the chamber, said.

Bee was a successful blacksmith and formed his own secret fraternal club, E Clampus Vitus, in 1857 after several societies wouldn’t have him as a member, Musgrave said.

“He was upset that a couple societies didn’t let him join,” Musgrave said.

Musgrave said that due to Bee’s exclusion, because he wasn’t a member of the social elite, he formed his own society as a spoof to the standard societies like the Masons.

Most of the original members were miners, so as the gold rush began in the western United States toward the end of the 19th century, the miners took their new society with them, Musgrave said. With chapters still operating in California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Washington, Idaho and Oregon, Musgrave said he hopes to draw some of the members to the society’s ancestral home.

With the name as Bee, Musgrave said, it was a natural choice to tie in the honey and bee industry into Doddridge County’s newest festival.

“We want to give them a voice and hope to help sell their product,” he said.

The honey industry’s influence is even felt in the festival’s beauty pageant. The winner of the pageant to be held 6 p.m. Friday at Doddridge County High School Auditorium will be crowned Queen Bee and for the first year a Teen Bee also will be crowned. Admission is $5.

The festival isn’t only about beauty as Bee was voted the most ugly man in West Virginia, Musgrave said. A contest to determine the man who is aesthetically challenged as Bee will be held 2 p.m. Saturday WHAT DAY. The winner will receive a custom-designed “Ugly Man” pocket knife.

Musgrave said the Honey Tasting competition going on all day will give prizes to the three beekeepers and bee clubs that produce nature’s best golden sweet treat.

If fitness instead of treats is more in line with a festival visitor’s mindset, the Jones-Imboden 5K will test their constitution as well as deliver a peaceful setting for their run. The race is scheduled 8 a.m. Saturday.

Starting at the trail head of the North Bend Rail Trail in West Union, the race heads along the trail giving runners a taste of natural beauty to go along with the sweetness of honey. Cost to pre-register for the 5K is $25, $30 on the day of the race.

For two wheeled enthusiasts, the festival offers a motorcycle show sponsored by Real Life Ministry. The registration is between 7 and 10 a.m. and costs $10 with judging starting at noon.

Before the contest, participants can join the Go Fish/Poker Run at 11 a.m. starting at the North Bend Rail Trail on Main Street before playing the odds in a fun game of cards.

To register for any of the events or for more information, visit the festival’s web page at ephraimbeefestival.com.