ELKINS — Sammi Sproul led the way for the Elkins High School girls with an 11th-place finish in the Mountain State Forest Festival cross country Invitational held on Saturday.
The senior covered the muddy 3.1 mile Davis & Elkins College course in 24:06.
“Sammi sets the standard for our girls right now,” said EHS coach Scott Biola. “We’ve just got to work on closing the gap between her and the rest of our pack.”
Other scorers for the Lady Tigers included Raighan Hall Carte (34th, 26:52), Delia White (35th, 27:03), Mallory Bennett (37th, 27:10) and Mya Mendelson (38th, 27:18).
Cathryne Tenney took third place in the junior varsity competition for Elkins in a time of 33:16.
Doddridge County’s Alexis Lamb won the race in a time of 20:57 to help lead the Lady Bulldogs capture the team competition with 42 points. Buckhannon-Upshurwas second with 66 points.
Other complete teams included Braxton County with 72 points, Tucker County (98), Philip Barbour (107), Ritchie County (136) and Elkins (145).
Lydia Falkenstein placed second overall in a time of 21:31 to lead the Lady Bucs, while Alayna Grassi was ninth (23:47) to pace the Lady Colts and Katie Hicks (23:42) and Erin Chambers (23:57) seventh and 10th, respectively, for the Lady Mountain Lions.
On the boys side, Tyler Burda and Gavin Brown earned medals for Elkins with eighth and 13th- place finishes, respectively. Burda clocked a 20:51, with Brown not far behind in 21:24.
Bobby Valentine (23rd, 22:27), Aaron Knight (24th, 22:42) and Andres Masten (30th, 22:59) rounded out the Tigers’ top five.
In boys JV action, Preston Nixon finished second in 25:25.
“The boys team had a great effort today,” said EHS Coach Amanda Carter. “Once again …tough competition, but the boys rose to the challenge and battled it out to the end.”
Lewis County’s Slate Swiger bested the field on the boys side with a time of 18:32.
B-U took top honors as a team with 34 points, followed by Doddridge County (76), Lewis County (84), Elkins (97), Ritchie County (123), South Harrison (139), Tucker County (152) and Lincoln (178).
The Bucs had three runners among the top five as Jordan Gillum was second (19:16), Jack Waggy third (19:44) and Reis Leonard fourth (20:15).
Cameron Judy placed 17th (21:52) to lead the Mountain Lions.
Elkins, B-U and Philip Barbour are scheduled to take part in the Big 10-Cardinal Conference Challenge Saturday at Preston High School.
The girls are slated to take the course at 5 p.m. and the boys at approximately 5:30 p.m.
Mountain State Forest Festival Director Robbie Morris Has announced the appointments of Kayla Virginia Harris, Sarah Ashley Lipscomb, Daniel Webster Hardy III, and Kyle Liam Warner as Royal Souts for thre 84th Mountain State Forest Festival.
Kayla is the daughter of Dr. Scott and Christina Harris of Elkins. She is the grandaughter of Phillip and Ann Harris of Elkins and Pete and the late Frances McLaughlin of Marlinton. She has one brother, Andrew, who was a Crown Bearer for the 78th Mountain State Forest Festival.
Kayla will be a seventh-grade student at Elkins Middle School in the Fall. She has danced for eight years for West Virginia Highland Dance, is a blue belt in David Karate Academy Chi Do Kwan Karate, plays flute in the Elkins Middle School Band and is a member of Girl Scouts and Scouts BSA.
Harris is a member of First United Methodist Church and enjoys singing, drawing, reading, writing and arts and crafts. Kayla has been a scout for seven years and is representing Troop 51432.
Sarah is the daughter of Hollis and Jennifer Lipscomb of Elkins. She is the grandaughter of the late Elmer and Charlotte Lipscomb of St. George, and Tommy and Judith Cochran of Buckhannon. She has one brother, Daniel.
Sarah will be a seventh-grade student at Elkins Middle School in the Fall. She is an Honor Roll student, member of Girl Scouts, Scouts BSA, Alliance Church Group, Seneca Soccer, plays clarinet in the Elkins Middle School Band and enjoys drawing and running.
Sarah has been a scout for seven years and is representing Troop 51432.
Daniel is the son of Daniel Hardy II and Cynthia Hardy of Elkins. He is the grandson of Harry and Carolyn Hardy of Parsons, and Howard and Constance Davis of Beverly. He has two brothers, Janson and Lance, and one sister, Rhianna.
Daniel is Homeschooled and will be entering seventh-grade in the Fall.
He is a Troop 66 Assistant Patrol Leader, Izaak Walker League Youth member and enjoys hunting, fishing, camping and earning scout merit badges.
Hardy is working to become an Eagle Scout. Daniel has been a scout for one year and is representing Troop 66.
Kyle is the son of Bryan and Stephanie Warner of Elkins. He is the grandson of Carl and Jaime Warner of Circleville, and Chip and Vrera Lewis of Elkins. He has two brothers, Josh and Cameron.
Kyle willl enter eight-grade in the Fall. Warner swims for the Elkins Otters and Rays Swim Teams. He is a member of Ski-Hi 4-H Clunb and Boy Scout Troop 88.
Kyle has been a scout for seven years and is representiing Troop 88.
Please join the Royal Scouts and the Royal Court of Maid Silvia LXXXIV as they descend Coronation Hill at the crowning of Maid Silvia the 84th on Friday, Oct. 7, at the outdoor amphitheatre on the campus of Davis & Elkins College.
Mountain State Forest Festival Director Robbie Morris is pleased to announce the selection of Taelynn Harlan as Woodly the Elf for the 84th Mountain State Forest Festival.
Taelynn is the daughter of Brandon and Trenna Robinson of Elkins and George and Brittany Harlan of Beverly.
She is the grandaughter of David and Donna Simmons of Beverly, and Bert and Mary Harlan of Junior.
She is the step-grandaughter of Brad and Debora Robinso of Montrose. She has three brothers, Sawyer and Barrett Robinson and Levi Harlan, and one sister, Juliann Harlan.
Taelynn will be in fifth grade at Midland Elementary in the Fall. She is an honor roll student, participates with the Elkins Otters, Ski-Hi 4-H member, Midland Cheerleader and plays softball for the Hericanes.
Harlan was honored during an assembly March 18 featuring Mountain State Forest Festival Officials.
Morris, Queens Department Director Tracy Gooden and Queens Department Assistant Directors Megan Casto and Lisa Shaffer were on hand at the school to announce that Harlan had won the Annual Woodly the Elf Poster Contest.
Morris recieved an overwhelming ovation after he proclaimed that the Mountain State Forest Festival would indeed return in October.
“Hearing the excitment of the children when we announced that the Foreswt Festival wouold be back this Fall, and that we were announcing that Woodly the Elf would be from Midland Elementary, was tremendous,” Morris told the Inter-Mountain.
“The kids went nuts and it just reenergizes our feeling toward the Forest Festival. We are so excited to be back to normal this Fall.”
Harlan will have the honor in serving as Woodly the Elf and will become a member of the Royal Minor Court of Queen Silvia LXXXIV.
As the official mascot of the MSFF, Harlan will also make appearances at other festivals around the area in the future.
Woodly is chosen each year as a Randolph County student in the second, third, or fourth grades. Students from home, private or public schools are elegible to compete.
Join Harlan and thre Royal Court of Maid Silvia LXXXIV, as they descend Coronation Hill at her crowning on Friday, Oct. 7 at D&E College.
Mountain State Forest Festival Director General Robbie Morris announces the appointment of the Queen’s Department Director, Deputy Director, and the Assistant Directors for the 84th Mountain State Forest Festival. Coordinating this year’s Festival will be Queen’s Department Director Tracy Gooden; Deputy Director Jon Morgan; and Assistant Directors Nathaniel Bonnell, Heidi Bray, Melanie Dempsey, David Doerr, Zach Elbon, Amanda Jones, Christina “Chrissy” Kittle, Todd Riggleman, Brian Romero, Jeff Skidmore, Jodi Varner, and Karrah Washington.
Tracy Gooden will serve her first year as Director of the Queen’s Department, having previously served three years as an Assistant Director. She is employed as a Data Associate for Vizient Inc. She and her husband, Ron, have one daughter, Abigale Sicca, who served as a Princess in the 80th Mountain State Forest Festival in 2016. Tracy is a member of the Randolph County CLIMB Mentorship Program. She and her family attend the First Baptist Church of Elkins.
Tracy has served on several festival committees, including Queen’s Ball, Downtown Window Decorations, Band Field Show, Distinguished Guest Dinner, Country Music Show and Tailgate Party, Crafts & More, and Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
Jon Morgan will begin his eighth year with the Mountain State Forest Festival and will serve as Deputy Director General. He works for the U.S. Forest Service as the District Ranger on the Cheat-Potomac Ranger District on the Monongahela National Forest. He and his wife, Jennifer, have one son Grant and one daughter Emma. Jennifer was Crown Bearer in the 1987 Mountain State Forest Festival, a Maid of Honor in the 2000 Forest Festival, and Emma was the Crown Bearer in the 83rd Mountain State Forest Festival.
Morgan is a past President of the Elkins Kiwanis Club. He has volunteered on City Park Events, Irish Road Bowling, Lumberjack Contest, Security, Communications, and the Band Field Show committees. This year, Morgan is responsible for Security, Communications, and Irish Road Bowling.
Nathaniel Bonnell will serve his first year as an Assistant Director. He is President and CEO of Citizens Bank of West Virginia and Citizens Financial Corp. Bonnell holds a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), and Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation. Bonnell serves on the Board of Directors of the Randolph County Development Authority, Rotary Club of Elkins, and the West Virginia Bankers Association. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Davis & Elkins College. He is a past President of the Randolph-Tucker Children’s Advocacy Center’s Board of Directors. He is a member of American Institute of CPAs and West Virginia Society of CPAs and recently joined YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization).
He is a 2014 graduate of Leadership West Virginia. Bonnell graduated Valedictorian, Summa Cum Laude at Davis & Elkins College with a BS in Accounting and Management and earned an MBA from WVU. Married to Christina Bonnell, Nathaniel resides in Elkins with their two daughters, Braelyn and Kelsea. Bonnell will be responsible for the 10K Race, Cross Country Race, and Muzzleloading Competition as well as assisting with City Park events.
Heidi Bray will serve her first year as an Assistant Director. She has volunteered with the festival for several years helping with decorations for the Queen’s Ball, Distinguished Guest Dinner, Coronation Stage, and Downtown Windows. In 2001, Heidi was a Flower Girl in the 65th Mountain State Forest Festival and served as a Maid of Honor in the 73rd Mountain State Forest Festival in 2009. She is employed as a staff accountant at Carte Hall CPA. Heidi and her husband, C.J., are active with Elkins Kiwanis where Heidi serves as club president.
This year, Heidi will be coordinating the Opening and Closing Ceremonies along with the Distinguished Guest Dinner and Queen’s Ball.
Melanie Dempsey will be serving her fourth year as an Assistant Director. She and her husband, Bill, have two daughters, Gabrielle and Caitlynn. Gabrielle was the Crown Bearer for the 80th Mountain State Forest Festival in 2016.
Melanie earned her undergraduate degrees in accounting, biology, and chemistry from Davis & Elkins College and completed a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration at WVU. She is employed by the West Virginia Hospital Association as the Vice President of Financial Policy.
She is involved in and volunteers with several organizations, including Randolph County Schools, Excel Travel Soccer Club, the Healthcare Financial Management Association, and the American College of Healthcare Executives. Melanie serves as a board member for the Davis Health System Foundation and is a member of the Board of Trustees for Davis & Elkins College. She has volunteered with the festival for many years as an Assistant Director, Director of the Queen’s Department, Minor Court committee, Beer Festival, Kid’s Day in the Park, Children’s Parade, and Hospitality Tents.
This year, Melanie will be coordinating the Kid’s Day in the Park activities, the Children’s Parade, themed, “Creatures of the Mon”, and the Festival Program.
David C. Doerr will serve his first year as an Assistant Director. David and his wife Kayla have one daughter, Evelyn.
David served as a Train Bearer in the 65th Mountain State Forest Festival. He is the President of Doerr Corporation, a family-owned development and high-end rental company. He manages over 70 rental properties in Elkins and Buckhannon and oversees the ongoing construction projects. He has also started his own business of fixing up homes in Elkins and providing high-end properties for the citizens of Elkins.
David is on the Board of Directors of Elkins Main Street and is a member of the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce. For the 84th Festival, David will coordinate Vendor Row, the Pet Show, and the Cornhole Tournament.
Zach Elbon will be serving his second year as an Assistant Director. He graduated from WVU with a BS degree in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering with a minor in Geology. Elbon currently works for US Well Services LLC in Jane Lew, WV as a DESQ Engineer. He also owns and operates a local sign shop, Emblazon Sign Company in Elkins, WV. He is a member of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce.
Zach and his wife, Megan, have volunteered for the Mountain State Forest Festival for numerous events including Golf Tournament, Grand Feature Parade, Chili Cook-Off, City Park, Irish Road Bowling, Scrapbook, Princess Ambassador Program, Queen’s Ball, and Distinguished Guest Dinner. Megan served as a Flower Girl in 2001 and a Maid of Honor in 2012. They have one daughter, Ella.
This year, Zach is responsible for the Golf Tournament, City Park, Irish Road Bowling, and Grand Feature Parade.
Amanda Jones will serve her third year as an Assistant Director for the Mountain State Forest Festival. Jones is a Family Nurse Practitioner at Valley Health Care, Inc. She and her husband, JW, have one daughter, Kourtney, who was a Flower Girl in the 2015 Mountain State Forest Festival.
Amanda serves as Board President for Mountain Living. She has assisted and sponsored numerous events over the years. This year she will be responsible for the Bass Tournament, ATV Ride, Hospitality Tent, Safety and Security, and Indianapolis Metropolitan Motorcycle Drill Team.
Christina “Chrissy” Kittle will serve her fifth year as an Assistant Director. She is the Executive Director of Mountain Memories Assisted Living and Retirement Center, LLC.
She and her husband, Matt, have 4 children, Sydney Mullenax, Hallie LeHosit (Logan), Dahlton and Mateah Kittle. Sydney was a Flower Girl in the 2008 Mountain State Forest Festival and a Maid of Honor in the 2017 Mountain State Forest Festival. Mateah was a princess in the 2016 Forest Festival.
Kittle currently serves on the Randolph County Senior Center Board as Secretary. Throughout her volunteer years Kittle has assisted with the Queen’s Ball, Distinguished Guest Dinner, Photography Exhibit, Coronation, Princess Housing, Band Field Show, Kid’s Day in the Park, and Heat in the Street Chili and Wings Cook-off.
This year, Chrissy will be responsible for Saturday Night-Return to Festival City Downtown Party, Information Booth, and Crafts & More.
Brian Romero will begin his first year as an Assistant Director for the 84th Mountain State Forest Festival. He works for James Hardie Building Products as the Continuous Improvement Manager for the US and Asia Operations. He and his wife, Beverly, have one son Josh and one daughter Macie. Macie was a Jester in the 82nd Mountain State Forest Festival in 2018. Romero is a board member of the Elkins Randolph County Chamber of Commerce and an assistant wrestling coach of the Davis & Elkins wrestling team.
This year, Romero will oversee the Forestry Exhibits, Strongman Competition, and the Lumberjack Competition.
Todd Riggleman will return for his twelfth year as an Assistant Director. He is the manager of distribution forestry with Mon Power, a FirstEnergy Company. He and his wife Robin have two sons, Garrett and Kyle. Kyle served as Train Bearer in the 2009 Forest Festival. His sister, Kelly Gilbert, was a Jester in the 1981 Mountain State Forest Festival. Riggleman attends Woodford Memorial United Methodist Church.
He has served as a volunteer with the Elks Babe Ruth Baseball League for more than 14 years and also volunteers for the Odd Fellows Group.
Todd has worked on numerous events including the Lumberjack Competition, Strongman Competition, Information Booth, Bass Tournament, Flags and Banners, Fireman’s Parade, Forestry/Wood Products, Pet Show, Photography Exhibit, Miniature Horse Show, ATV Race, Poker Run, Vendors, and Sanitation and Grounds.
For the 2022 festival, Todd will coordinate the ATV Ride, Primitive Campers, Fireman’s Parade, Indianapolis Metropolitan Motorcycle Drill Team, and Grounds.
Jeff Skidmore will return for his fifth year as an Assistant Director. He has been employed by the Randolph County Assessor’s Office for 24 years; has been involved with the Elkins Raceway for over 40 years and is currently the media director and director of competition placement. Skidmore also works for American Mountain Productions based out of the Robinson Grand Theater in Clarksburg.
He has previously volunteered for Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs. He has served on numerous festival committees including Lumberjack Competition, Country Music Show, Gospel Show, Information Booth, ATV Race, Distinguished Guest Dinner, Queen’s Ball, Jack Basil Band Field Show, band recruitment for the Grand Feature Parade, ROTC, and organizing the flags and banners for the festival.
He has two nieces, Jackie Skidmore-Teter and Samantha Skidmore who have both served as princesses in the 2002 and 2006 Mountain State Forest Festivals respectively. Jeff will be responsible for the Downtown Stage Entertainment and Lights and Sound. He is instrumental in bringing the Indianapolis Metropolitan Motorcycle Drill Team to this year’s festival.
Jodie Varner will serve her fourth year as an Assistant Director for the Mountain State Forest Festival. Varner is a resident of Beverly, WV. She is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College and is employed by Randolph County Board of Education as a teacher.
Jodie has served on various committees including Minor Court committee, Princess Orientation, Cross Country Meet, 10K/5K Race and Kids Fun Run, Grand Feature Parade, Heat in the Street Chili Cook-off, Golf Tournament, Kids Fest, and Pet Show. She served as a Mountain State Forest Festival Princess in 1997 and her niece, Shay Teter Hayes, was the Crown Bearer in 1997.
Jodie is a member of the Beverly Women’s Club, serves on the WV 4-H All Star Executive Committee, WVU 4-H Extension Service volunteer, and is a past member of the Kump Education Center Board of Directors. Jodie attends Summit Church.
She will oversee the Grand Feature Parade, Pet Show, and Kids Fest for this year’s festivities.
Karrah Washington will serve her first year as an Assistant Director. She is employed as the Executive Director for the Barbour County Senior Center, Inc. dba Here and There Transit.
She and her husband, Brandon, have one son Brayton and one daughter Braelynn.
Karrah was a Princess in the 2008 Mountain State Forest Festival.
Washington is the past Executive Director for the United Way of Randolph County and is very active within her community. She has volunteered with Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Distinguished Guest Dinner, and Queen’s Ball committees in the past.
This year, Karrah will be responsible for Downtown Window Decorations, Photography, Highland Dance, and Band Field Show.
Robbie Morris states, “I’m very proud to be serving alongside this distinguished group of hardworking and dedicated Assistant Directors. Their love and passion for the Forest Festival shows in their work and I am eternally grateful for everything they have done and continue to do to ensure the success of the 84th Mountain State Forest Festival!”
The 84th Mountain State Forest Festival will be celebrated October 1 through October 9, 2022. More information is available at www.forestfestival.com or at 304-636-1824.
Elkins – Mountain State Forest Festival Director, Robbie Morris has announced the appointments of Ava Marjory Barger, Aidan Matthew Lowther, Samuel ‘Aaron’ Mabry Jr., and Thomas Albert Nixon as Trumpeteers for the 84th Mountain State Forest Festival.
Ava is the daughter of John and Kate Barger of Elkins, WV. She is the granddaughter of Marj Moses and Bob Rose of Elkins and Beth Barger and the late Larry S. Barger of Elkins. She has one brother, Dyer.
Ava will be a 10th grade student at Elkins High School in the Fall. She participates in Young Life, 1201 CrossFit, Student Government and Class Council.
Aidan is the son of Christopher Lowther and Jenna Jeffries of Elkins, WV. He is the grandson of Brenda Pritt of Elkins, WV and Harry Jeffries of Morgantown, WV. He has one sister Layne.
Aidan is an honor roll student and will be in 9th grade in the Fall. He is a Shadow Student and is the President of Hi-Y Club. He is a member of Elkins High Band, Elkins High School Jazz Band and Region 8 Honor Band. Aidan attends Nazarene Church Youth Group, plays Babe Ruth Baseball, is a member of the Randolph County Youth Livestock Association and Vice-President of Lucky Leaf Livestock 4-H Club.
Aaron is the son of Allison Baucom and Shawn Harper of Elkins. He is the grandson of Denis and Linda Fuller of Spring Hill, FL. He has one brother Cale and one sister Arya.
Aaron will be in 12th grade at Elkins High School in the Fall. He is a member of the Elkins High School Jazz Band and plays the trumpet and mellophone in the Elkins High School Marching Band.
Aaron is an amateur photographer and hobbyist writer. He is also a member of the International Thespian Society Troupe 4648.
Thomas is the son of Philip and Christine Nixon of Elkins. He is the grandson of Philip and Linda Nixon and Thomas and Jean Toscano of Buckhannon, WV. Thomas has two brothers, Newt and Preston and one sister Logan.
This will be Nixon’s second year serving as a Royal Trumpeteer. In the Fall, Thomas will enter 12th grade at Elkins High School. Nixon participates in golf, debate and band.
Please join the Royal Trumpeteers and the Royal Court of Maid Silvia LXXXIV as they descend Coronation Hill at the crowning of Maid Silvia the 84th on Friday, October 7, 2022, at the outdoor amphitheater on the campus of Davis and Elkins College.
Elkins – The 84th Mountain State Forest Festival Director General Robbie Morris has announced the selection of Royal Jesters Ariella Paige Brown, Kenadi Sloane Hall Carte, Emma Reese Markley, and Emily Elizabeth Tesar.
The four Randolph County students earned their distinction through an audition process and will have the honor of providing entertainment in the form of dance and tumbling through out the festivities from October 1 – 9.
Ariella is the daughter of Cynthia Brown of Elkins. She is the granddaughter of Leo and Kathy Weese of Elkins and great granddaughter of Mary Lou Irwin and the late Fredrick Irwin of Elkins. She has one brother, Gavin.
Ariella will enter sixth grade in the fall at Elkins Middle Schol. She is an honor roll student and attends Dance by Farrah and competes on the competition team in Hip Hop, Lyrical and Duet Dance. She participates in band and cheerleading. Her hobbies include swimming, tumbling, playing volleyball and spending time with family and friends.
Kenadi is the daughter of John W. Carte and R. Healther Hall of Montrose.
She is the granddaughter of John and the late Ruth Carte of Vienna and Eric and Rebecca Hall of Glenwood. She has one sister, Raighan.
In the fall, Kenadi will be in sixth grade at Elkins Middle School. She is a member of Mountain Gymnastics Academy where she participates on the competition team. She is a member of Elkins Otters and YMCA Rays swim teams. Kenadi enjoys arts and crafts, swimming, gymnastics and spending time with friends and family.
Reese is the daughter of Anthony and Lona Markley of Elkins. She is the granddaughter of Charles Markley of Belington, Wanda and Rob Jones of Beverly, and Buddy and Kathy Tacy of Huttonsville. She has one sister, Sasha Biggs.
Reese will be an eighth-grade student at Elkins Middle School in the fall. She is a straight A student and participates on the competition team for Tumble Time Gymnastics and Dance by Farrah. Reese enjoys writing, skiing, running and spending time with family and friends. She attends Landmark Baptist Church.
Emily is the daughter of Tom and Jennifer Tesar of Elkins. She is the granddaughter of Phyllis Marcum and the late Charles Marcum of Gulfport, Florida. She has one brother, Andrew.
In the fall Emily will enter sixth grade at Elkins Middle School. She is an honor roll student and has competed in gymnastics in the Junior Olympics and Xcel. She plays soccer and is a member of Highland Dance. Emily enjoys swimming, crafting, rollerblading, skiiing, snowboarding and running.
Please join the jesters and the Royal Court of Maid Silvia LXXXIV as they descend coronation hill at the crowing of Maid Silvia the 84th on Friday, October 7th at Davis & Elkins College.
ELKINS — After a two-year hiatus as a result of the COVID pandemic, the 84th Mountain State Forest Festival officially kicked off with a reception announcing the royal appointment of Maid Silvia LXXXIV Caroline Marie Fluke of Buckhannon Sunday.
The private event in historic Graceland Inn on the campus of Davis & Elkins College was sponsored by Graceland Inn & Conference Center and D&E Dining Services.
Also introduced were Maids of Honor Hannah Lee Phillips of Coalton and Sarah Diane Riggleman of Beverly.
As guests arrived, members of the West Virginia Highlanders of Davis & Elkins College played Scottish tunes from the Graceland porch signaling the start of an official Forest Festival event.
With family members and Forest Festival officials gathered around the staircase landing, Director General Robbie Morris gave a welcoming address to what he jokingly deemed “the third annual Queen’s Announcement for the 84th Mountain State Forest Festival.”
“As we all know much has happened since were last gathered here for the announcement of Maid Silvia the 83rd Caitlin Smith,” Morris said. “Our world has been through one of the most challenging times in history, our health care workers and first responders have been tested to the max, and we have lost too many members of our community.”
Specifically, Morris recognized the loss of Mr. Forest Festival John Zirbs, who died in May 2021.
“As they say, ‘out of sorrow comes great joy,’ and that is what we are here to celebrate today,” Morris said.In introducing the theme he chose for the Festival, “A Mountain Mosaic,” Morris explained that everyone associated with the event is integral to its success.
“A mosaic is a piece of artwork created by many individual pieces that when brought together in a specific, orchestrated way, creates a magnificent piece of art,” Morris said. “That is exactly what the Forest Festival is. Each one of you here today are pieces of that mosaic. Members of the Board of Directors, my amazing team of assistant directors, Queen’s Department, our executive director, all of their families that allow them to work on the Forest Festival, sponsors, supporters, community leaders and friends of the Forest Festival. And, especially my family, who has endured more Forest Festival havoc in their lives than most these past couple of years. All of you are a piece of this great work of art.”
Morris added that Maid Silvia and her Maids of Honor will add to the pieces of Festival mosaic.
In anticipation of the coming festivities, the word “finally” echoed in the remarks from Director of the Queen’s Department Tracy Gooden and Festival royalty.“On behalf of myself and the Queen’s Department Assistant Directors Lisa Shaffer and Megan Casto and the entire Festival Family, I would like to finally, after two long years, welcome you to the formal announcement of Maid Silvia,” Gooden said. “As we stand here together in the beautiful, historic Graceland Inn on the campus of Davis & Elkins College, it is our honor and privilege to welcome festival royalty to our beautiful town. The beautiful surroundings are a representation of our theme this year, ‘A Mountain Mosaic.’”
The maids of honor and Maid Silvia descended the staircase on the arms of assistant directors and took their places behind the podium.Phillips, a sophomore at D&E majoring in elementary education, is the daughter of Junior and Peggy Phillips and granddaughter of Mickey and Charlotte Phillips, Sumiko Elmore and the late James Elmore, all of Coalton.
Phillips shares ties with the Forest Festival and reflected on her memories from childhood. Her mother served as an assistant director in the Queen’s Department for one year and as director of the Queen’s Department for four years. Phillips was a flower girl in the 77th Mountain State Forest Festival.
“Growing up I can always remember sitting along Coronation Hill dreaming of descending it one day,” Phillips said. “That dream came true in the 77th Mountain State Forest Festival when I had the opportunity to be a flower girl. That was the best week of my life.”
Later, when her mother began volunteering for the Festival, Phillips learned more about the preparations and her admiration for the event grew.
“After that week, my dream of descending Coronation Hill again was reignited. I have always admired the Festival, the people in it, the people that work so hard to make it what it is, and the way the people of this town love it,” Phillips said. “I loved getting to know more and more about the Festival through my mom. All of the countless hours that go into preparation for the week of magic is something that I had a blind eye for. Now, I realize how lucky I am to be able to experience the magic that people work so hard to make possible.”
Riggleman is the daughter of Larry and Brenda Riggleman of Beverly and the granddaughter of Floyd Riggleman and the late Sylvia Riggleman of Beverly and Raymond Hamrick and the late Virginia Hamrick of Elkins. Her sister, Haleigh, was a flower girl in the 77th Mountain State Forest Festival. She attends Davis & Elkins College majoring in outdoor recreation management and minoring in accounting.
Although she is making her debut as a member of the Royal Court, Riggleman has fond memories of attending the Festival and recognized the efforts of volunteers who make the event possible.
“Finally, the time has come to start the 84th Mountain State Forest Festival,” Riggleman said. “After two years of cancellation and two long years of keeping this secret that nobody can believe I kept, we are finally at the Queen’s Announcement.”
Riggleman’s parents and aunt and uncle Ben and Lisa Shaffer have volunteered for the Festival and from them she has learned the dedication it takes to produce the fall celebration.
“The Festival cannot happen without the hard work of so many individuals,” Riggleman said. “Their hard work is visible in all of the events and does not go unnoticed by the people of Randolph County and the thousands of visitors that gather in Elkins to enjoy the festivities.”
Riggleman explained that the Festival is all about memories. Her most cherished one occurred in 2014 when she was the drum major in the Elkins Middle School Band.
“The band got to march directly behind the director general and his wife at the time, which happened to be my Uncle Ben and Aunt Lisa,” Riggleman said. “That was probably the first and last time the middle school band got to lead the Grand Feature Parade and it was just so Lisa wouldn’t have to miss seeing me march in the parade.”
“So, not only is the Festival full of fun childhood memories, but it is also full of personal memories of my family,” Riggleman said. “All of my life, my family has been the driving force behind me, and at all these Festival events I have attended, I was always accompanied by family. As you can see, the Forest Festival has already provided me with a lifetime of memories and it will continue to provide memories for generations to come.”
Fluke also shared her enthusiasm for getting the Festival off to a start and to begin making memories. She is the daughter of Eric and Jennifer Fluke and the granddaughter of Carol and the late Thomas B. Dunn of Naples, Florida, and Juanita and the late John Fluke of Shawnee, Oklahoma.
In 2021 she received an Associate Degree in cosmetology and is now licensed and certified in West Virginia. She is continuing her studies in the field of aesthetics and is enrolled in Laurel College of Technology. She plans to become licensed and certified and further her education to become a medical aesthetician.
“This has been a much-anticipated day — two years to be exact,” Fluke said. “I am extremely honored to have been selected to represent the 84th Festival as Maid Silvia and especially looking forward to becoming Queen Silvia.”
Fluke’s aunt and cousin previously served as princesses and she often attended the Festival as a child. This year, she is excited to take center stage.
“Today, I was able to meet the Maids of Honor Hannah and Sarah, and I know that we are going to have a wonderful time together,” Fluke said. “It will be a privilege having these two by my side.”
Phillips, Riggleman and Fluke expressed appreciation to their families and Festival officials for their support and guidance.
The 84th Mountain State Forest Festival will take place Oct. 1-9 throughout Elkins.
The 2022 Mountain State Forest Festival’s Queen’s Department has been announced.
Tracy Gooden will return for her fifth year with the Mountain state Forest Festival as Director of the Queen’s Department.
She is employed as a Data Associate for Vizient Inc. She and her husband Ron have one daughter, Abigale Sicca, who served as a princess in the 80th Mountain State Forest Festival in 2016 as a Princess.
Gooden and her family attend the First Baptist Church in Elkins. Gooden has served on numerous Festival committees, including Queen’s Ball, Downtown Window Decorations, Band Field Show, Distinguished Guest Dinner, the Country Music Show and Tailgate PartY, Crafts & More and Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
Lisa Shaffer will be returning for her firth year as a Queen’s Department Assistant. She and her husband Ben have been active volunteers with the Forest Festival for many years.
Shaffer has been involved with the Distinguished Guest Dinner and Queen’s Ball Committees, Band Field Show, Window Decorating and Horseshoe Tournament. Her husband Ben served as Director General of the 78th Mountain State Forest Festival. Her niece, Haleigh Riggleman, was a flower girl in the 2013 Mountain State Forest Festival. Shaffer is employed by the Randolph County Housing Authority.
Megan Casto will be serving her first year as a Queen’s Department Assistant. Megan has been actively involved with the Mountain State Forest Festival for many years. She has volunteered with Princess Orientation, Minor Court Princess Ambassadors, Window Decorating and Pet Show.
Casto was a flower girl in the 1995 Mountain State Forest Festival and a Maid of Honor in the 2008 Mountain State Forest Festival. Her husband Dusty was a Trumpeteer in the Mountain State Forest Festival from 1998-2000. Megan and Dusty have two daughters, Callie and Everly. Callie served as a Scepter Bearer in the 2019 Mountain State Forest Festival. Casto is employed as an accountant at Woodford Oil Company.
The Inter-Mountain photos by Linda Howell Skidmore 2022 Mountain State Forest Festival Maid Silvia Caroline Marie Fluke, above center, and her parents, Jennifer Fluke, left, and Eric Fluke, take part in an introduction event Sunday at Graceland on the Davis & Elkins College campus.
At left, Caroline Fluke, center, smiles with her Maids of Honor, Hannah Lee Phillips, left, Sarah Diane Riggleman. More phots and information from the event will be presented in the Lifestyles section of Saturday’s edition of the Inter-Mountain.
Elkins – Buckhannon resident Caroline Marie Fluke has been selected as Maid Silvia for the 84th Mountain State Forest Festival by Director General Robbie Morris.
Due to COVID-19, the selection of Maid Silvia has been kept a secret since 2020. She, along with her family, will vist Elkins on Sunday to attend a private reception in her honor which is sponsored by Graceland Innn and Conference Center and D&E Dining Services.
“From the moment I met Caroline I knew she would represent the Mountain State Forest Festival with honor and distinction,” said Morris. “Caroline and her family have been very patient and supportive as we worked through the challenges of the pandemic. We are excited to finally get festival activities rolling and I am looking forward to a great year.”
Caroline is the daughter of Eric and Jennifer Fluke of Buckhannon. She is the granddaughter of Carol and the late Thomas B. Dunn of Naples, Florida, and Juanita and the late John Fluke of Shawnee, Oklahoma. She has one brother, Bryson Fluke.
Caroline is a 2019 graduate of Buckhannon High School, where she was a four-year member of Student Council, a class officer for four years, an active member of Youth and Government and a member of the Youth Leadership Association. She was a four-year varsity cheerleader and served two years as the varsity cheerleading captain.
She was a competitor at the 2019 Skills USA National competition for cosmetology and finished in the Top 25 in the nation. She is the 2019 recipient of the prestigious Kelly Lynn Martin Spirit Award that is presented annually to a high school senior.
Currently, Caroline is enrolled in Laurel College of Technology. In 2021 Caroline received her Associate Degree in Cosmetology and is now licensed in West Virginia. She is now continuing her studies in the field of Aesthetics. After graduation she plans to be become licensed/certified and further her education to become a medical aesthetician.
In her spare time, Caroline enjoys spending time with family and friends and during the summer she likes to go to the lake and enjoys wakeboarding. During the winter months, she trades her wakeboard for her snowboard and enjoys snowboarding with her brother and friends. Caroline works in her family’s business, Caroline and Co., a retail women’s fashion boutique.
“With my family having ties to the wonderful natural resources that West Virginia has to offer, it is such an honor to represent the 84th Mountain State Forest Festival as Maid Silvia,” said Caroline.
Caroline will be crowned the Queen of the 84th Mountain State Forest Festival during her Royal Coronation on Oct. 7 at the outdoor amphitheater on the campus of Davis & Elkins College. Attended by 40 princesses from across the state, two maids of honor and a minor court, she will receive her crown in an elaborate outdoor ceremony.
The 84th Mountain State Forest Festival is scheduled for Oct. 1 through Oct. 9 with the theme “A Mountain Mosaic.” For more information, visit the Mountain State Forest Festival website at www.forestfestival.com or call 304-636-1824.