Jones elected MSFF board president

ELKINS – The Mountain State Forest Festival Association announces Lydia Jones has been elected President of its Board of Directors.

Jones was born and raised in Elkins and is a graduate of Elkins High School. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts at West Virginia Wesleyan College. She currently manages Perfection Plus Turbo-Dry, LLC and serves as property manager of Wagner Properties, LLC.

Jones served as an Assistant to the Queen’s Department in 2009 and 2010, and was appointed as Director of the Queen’s Department in 2011, where she served in that capacity for three years. She was appointed Director General in 2015 and joined the Board of Directors in 2017. She served as Vice-President in 2022 and 2023.

Jones is a member of the First United Methodist Church. She is a board member of Interact Children’s Museum, and PTA President at Midland Elementary School.

She is married to Grant Jones, and they have one son, Max, who served as Crown Bearer in the 2022 Mountain State Forest Festival. Her family has held the Princess Parade Welcoming at their office since 2006. Lydia was a princess in the 2003 Mountain State Forest Festival, and her brother was a Train Bearer in 1988.

Other elected members of the Mountain State Forest Festival Board of Directors include Scott Harris, Bill Hartman, Hugh Hitchcock, Mike Karlen, Ray LaMora, Cricket Leary, Kathy Leombruno, Cliff Marstiller, Robin Miller, Robbie Morris, Frank Santmyer, Ben Shaffer, Chad Shoemaker, and Bob Wamsley. Community Board members include David Kesling, Susie Kump, Jerry Marco, Shelby Searls and Chris Wood.

“I am humbled and excited to serve as President of the Board of Directors of the Mountain State Forest Festival,” Jones said. “The entire board is supportive and works hard to ensure our legacy continues as one of the oldest and largest festivals in the state. We can’t wait to work with Director General Peggy Phillips and her Assistant Directors to put on another fantastic festival as we celebrate the beauty and splendor of our mountains and valleys.”

The state’s largest and oldest festival is scheduled for Sept. 28-Oct. 6.

Additional information about the Mountain State Forest Festival is available online at

Woodly the Elf poster contest now underway

ELKINS – Mountain State Forest Festival officials have announced the kickoff of the annual Woodly the Elf poster contest for the 86th autumn celebration.

Woodly the Elf is the official mascot of the Mountain State Forest Festival.

The poster contest, now in its 45th year, is held to select the student who will have the honor of serving as Woodly the Elf. The poster winner will become a member of the Royal Minor Court of Queen Silvia LXXXVI, and make appearances at the Buckwheat Festival and Strawberry Festival.

The Woodly the Elf contest is open to Randolph County students in second, third or fourth grades – including home school, private or public schools. Four runner-ups will be chosen and invited to ride on the Woodly the Elf float in the Grand Feature Parade.

Entry forms are available at local elementary schools, the Mountain State Forest Festival office located at 10 11th Street, Office F, and at Citizens Bank in Elkins and Beverly. Entry forms may also be downloaded at or you can visit the Facebook page of the Mountain State Forest Festival or Citizens Bank of West Virginia.

Woodly the Elf’s costume and associated fees are paid for by the sponsor, Citizens Bank of West Virginia.

Rules of the contest are as follows:

1. The poster must depict Woodly the Elf, preferably watching or participating in one or more Mountain State Forest Festival events. The theme “Timeless Traditions” should also be clearly depicted on the front of the poster.

2. The poster is to be on a 22-inch by 28-inch poster board.

3. Poster must be submitted by one individual; this is not a group project.

4. Be creative and imaginative. You may use glue, glitter, material, etc. in your design. You may not use photos or any identifying text on the front of the poster.

5. Only one entry per student is permitted.

6. On the back of the poster, you must write and sign: “I have completed this poster by myself,” with the student’s signature.

Completed posters can be returned to the child’s school or dropped off at the festival office at 10 11th Street, Office F.

Contest entries are due by March 15. No late entries are accepted.

The 86th edition of the Mountain State Forest Festival will take place Saturday, Sept. 28 – Sunday, Oct. 6. For more information, please visit the Mountain State Forest Festival website at or via e-mail at [email protected].

MSFF Queen’s Quilt block contest begins

ELKINS — An annual Mountain State Forest Festival quilting contest that is open to the public is getting underway.

The Elkins Sewing Center, in cooperation with the Mountain State Forest Festival, is pleased to announce that kits are available for the 2024 Queen’s Quilt Challenge.

This annual block challenge results in the creation of a beautiful quilt which is given to Queen Silvia during the Closing Ceremony.

A challenge packet of six fabrics is available for purchase. Block guidelines are included with the kit. Fall themes are best for this quilt contest, officials said.

Blocks are to be returned to Elkins Sewing Center by May 1 and voting by the public will be available until June 1.

The winners of the 2024 Challenge will be selected by popular vote, so officials ask the public to be sure to come in and select your favorites. Winners will receive gift cards to be used at Elkins Sewing Center.

Packets are available for purchase at Elkins Sewing Center, located at 300 Davis Avenue in Elkins.

For more information, please call 304-636-9480 with any questions.

Morgan selected as Director General for the 85th MSFF

ELKINS — The Board of Directors of the Mountain State Forest Festival is pleased to announce their appointment of Jonathan R. Morgan as Director General of the 85th Mountain State Forest Festival.

The Festival is scheduled to take place from Sept. 30 through Oct. 8.

“It’s an honor to be chosen as Director General and work with a great group of assistants for the 85th Mountain State Forest Festival,” said Morgan.

This year’s theme — “Endlessly Wild & Wonderful” — will be shared with the Monongahela National Forest.

The Forest will provide the 2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on behalf of the USDA Forest Service and the state of West Virginia, kicking off a year-long celebration to connect people to West Virginia’s public lands.

Morgan was appointed as an Assistant Director in 2013 and served in that role until 2020, when he was selected as Deputy Director General.

He and his wife Jennifer have one son, Grant, and one daughter, Emma. Jennifer served as Crown Bearer in the 1987 Festival and a Maid of Honor in the 2000 Festival, while Emma was the Crown Bearer in the 83rd Festival in 2019.

Morgan has served as a past president of the Elkins Kiwanis Club.

Through his work with the Festival, he has volunteered with City Park events, Irish Road Bowling, 10K Run, Horseshoes, Bass Tournament, Primitive Campers, Tennis, Lumberjack Contest, Security, Communications and the Band Field Show.

Morgan was born and raised in Elkins and is a graduate of Elkins High School. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from West Virginia University and is a professional engineer in West Virginia.

He works for the USDA Forest Service on the Monongahela National Forest as the District Ranger on the Cheat-Potomac Ranger District. Morgan began his career in the agency in 2002 and has served as District Ranger since 2020.

More information about this year’s festival is available by following the Mountain State Forest Festival page on Facebook, visiting the website at, or by phone at 304-636-1824.

Mountain State Forest Festival Grand Feature Parade

84th MSFF Closes Grand Feature Parade among highlights

October 11, 2022

By Brad Johnson

Queen Silvia LXXXIV Caroline Marie Fluke, center, and Maids of Honor Sarah Diane Riggleman and Hannah Lee Phillips ride on the Royal Court float through the Mountain State Forest Festival Grand Feature Parade.
Queen Silvia LXXXIV Caroline Marie Fluke and Director General Robbie Morris place a ceremonial stone in the Jennings Randolph Federal Plaza in Elkins.

ELKINS — After being delayed for three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mountain State Forest Festival officials celebrated the completion of a successful 84th festival with the official closing ceremonies Sunday afternoon.

The ceremonies, which took place at the Jennings Randolph Federal Plaza, were “a long time in the making, and one that, at times over the past three years, I admittedly wondered if it would ever come,” MSFF Director General Robbie Morris said during an emotional speech.

Morris honored the legacy of John Zirbs, affectionately known as “Mr. Forest Festival,”who passed away in 2021.

“John would either wear a Scooby Doo tie or a Tazmanian Devil tie to closing ceremonies,”Morris said. “He knew it was an emotional event for all in attendance, especially the speakers, so he would wear these ties, and if someone started to tear up, he’d say, ‘Aw, don’t cry. Look at my tie.’”

“Today I’ve had a Tazmanian Devil tie placed on a chair in memory of John.”

During Sunday’s ceremony, when a speaker would become emotional, they would look to the chair and mention how the tie gave them strength and focus to finish their remarks.

Morris thanked all the assistant directors and the volunteers who helped make the 84th festival a reality, and also thanked the local first responders who were an integral part of so many events throughout the week.

He also thanked and praised Queen Silvia LXXXIV Caroline Marie Fluke and Maids of Honor Hannah Lee Phillips and Sarah Diane Riggleman for their poise, energy and good humor while serving during the 84th MSFF.

“I hope everyone enjoyed the return of the Mountain State Forest Festival,” Morris said. “While it may not have been perfect, I assure you I gave it everything I had. Many times during the past three years, I’ve joked — sometimes serious, but mostly joking — that I was cursed. After this week I have come to realize that I’m not cursed. I am blessed beyond measure, and more than I deserve.”

Also speaking during the closing ceremony were MSFF Board of Directors President Ben Shaffer and Queen’s Department Director Tracy Gooden.

At the close of the ceremony, Fluke and Morris placed a ceremonial stone commemorating this year’s festival in the Jennings Randolph Federal Plaza courtyard.


Coronation of Queen Silvia

Maid Silvia Caroline Marie Fluke and Train Bearers Nicholas Joesph ‘NJ’ Patella and Cooper Preston Warner make their way down the Coronation Hill on the campus of Davis & Elkins College. Fluke was crowned the 84th Mountain State Forest Festival Queen.
Crown Bearer Max Ryan Jones makes his way down Coronation Hill. Jones kept a brisk pace as he travelled down the hill to applause from the crowd.
Woodly the Elf Taelynn Harlan waves to spectators during the Coronation Ceremony.












Scarecrow Contest Winners Named

Edgar Kelley – Staff Writer

Submitted photo Winners that were selected for their scarecrow designs during the 2022 Scarecrow Festival in downtown Elkins gathered to recieve certificates from Our Town Inc. Saturday on Third Street.

ELKINS — Our Town’s Scarecrow Festival officially concluded on Saturday with the removal of mannequins, collection of painted leaves and a brief ceremony announcing the 2022 award winners.

Placing scarecrows throughout Elkins’ downtown city streets has been a tradition for several years now, but it wasn’t until this year that organizers decided to make it a full-blown festival, officials said.

Leaves were distributed for residents to paint and place downtown, while the festival itself included two new events, a “Scarecrow Scavenger Hunt” and the “Scarecrow Fall Festival Extravaganza.” The extravaganza was held during Halloween weekend and featured an array of activities scattered throughout the downtown area.

“We had great participation from a lot of families and children during both our special events,” Our Town volunteer Bobbi Trimboli told The Inter-Mountain. “The downtown merchants were anxious to open their doors to all the activities that were going on.

“I think we can do it again and possibly next year add a few wrinkles to all the activities we had this year. It will definitely make for another fun-filled Halloween weekend again.”

Trimboli said the organization estimated that close to 500 residents came out for Saturday’s extravaganza.

“One of the volunteers at the Methodist church told us that she gave out candy to 365 different people,” said Trimboli. “I would say that we had a good 500 to 600 people come out. It was a very nice turnout and from the feedback we got was that people really enjoyed the trunk-or-treat, the hayride and all the wonderful activities we had.”

This year’s scarecrow winners included: “Grease” Davis Trust Company; “Lone Desperado” Leading Creek 4H; “Casey the Clover Guy” 4-H Teen Leaders; “John Lennon and Yoko Ono” Garver-Daniels Family; “Stitches” Mountain State Twirlers; “Mother Legacy” Legacy Insurance; “Picasso” Davis & Elkins College Art Students; “Scrappy Andy” Elkins Metal Recycling; “Harold the Happy Scarecrow” Mountain Heart Child Care Service; “Woodly” Mountain State Forest Festival; “Ruth Bader Ginsburg” Legal Aid of West Virginia; “Miss Vivian” West Virginia Caring; “Home Run Into Retirement”Mountain Valley Bank; and “Rosie” Alan Kerns.

“The creativity gets more and more every year and people really think of some neat ways to construct the scarecrows,” said Trimboli. “It was hard to select the winners but our group tried to make choices based on youth, non-profits and businesses. We tried to take all of that in account this year so that everyone would get a nod for their participation.”

Trimboli said Our Town had 17 leaves remaining that were not purchased back by their creators and that are currently available to purchase. She said several of the cutout leaves are plain and ready to be painted. For more information call 304-636-0415.