Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival moves forward with cautious plans for 42nd year | Journal-news

MARTINSBURG — Susan Snowden, board president of the Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival, has been a part of the organization since its inception in 1979 as a volunteer and has served on the board since 1982.

Snowden spoke at the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce News@Noon event regarding the upcoming plans and changes to the schedule for the 42nd Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival.

According to the official website, the MSAHF celebrates the apple industry, which is a valued part of the heritage of the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. Held every third weekend in October, it has become a treasured homecoming with festivities spanning over four days.

This year’s festival will take place Oct. 15-17, different from the traditional four-day event. However, Snowden assured listeners that the changes were going to be beneficial and exciting.

According to Snowden, the all-volunteer MSAHF board has taken the COVID-19 situation seriously and proceeded with caution when it comes to planning the festivities for the MSAHF this year. Snowden expressed gratitude to the MSAHF’s presenting sponsor, Bank of Charles Town, for its continued support.

“It will be different, but we do have plans for an exciting weekend for everyone. We all know that the CDC came out with new guidelines (Tuesday), and it has been weighing heavily on us as to how to have a festival in 2021 and still make sure that we are keeping the community safe,” Snowden said.

According to Snowden, Maid Elect Morgan Fleming will have her coronation on Oct. 15 at the Airborne Event Center in Martinsburg, where current Queen Pomona McKayla Dodson will pass on the crown.

“We will have plenty of social distancing there,” Snowden said. “Our health care friends have advised us to be cautious going into the fall and having an event as big as this. We bring thousands of people to the Panhandle for that weekend, and so, Airborne is the perfect place to hold the coronation with two maids, Maid Olivia Harman and Maid Gabriella Sergent. We hope that by 2022, we are back in full swing. For now, this is our modified court.”

According to Snowden, all events will take place on the sprawling acreage of the Berkeley County Fairgrounds, and citizens can expect craft and food vendors, the normal apple-themed contests, candied apple and dumpling sales, as well as a Saturday concert to close out the first day of festivities.

Snowden said on both Saturday and Sunday, citizens can take part in the pancake breakfast, though this year’s will be a take-out version, allowing those participants to eat on various picnic tables throughout the grounds instead of gathered together in the building, as was done in the past.

In addition, Snowden said there will be several vintage wagon and stagecoach displays, as well as first-responder displays to allow citizens the chance to thank those who protect and serve the community in person.

Snowden said the MSAHF will still have a sports celebrity host, which will be officially announced in the coming weeks, and the 5K Apple Trample run will still occur, though it will be conducted virtually again for safety concerns.

The quilt auction and Baby Apple Seed contest will also take place, though the auction and Baby Apple Seed voting and bidding will take place virtually, Snowden said.

Unfortunately, Snowden clarified the parade and the normal breakfasts for men and women are all canceled, as she said proper distancing and safety precautions couldn’t be guaranteed in these tight venues.

“I know people are upset about the parade, but with the way that the direction from the CDC is going right now, it looks like we made the right decision. The No. 1 concern is the health and safety of the community,” Snowden said. “We will have all of our agricultural events going on, photography contest, floral arranging contest, apple identification and biggest apple. On Sunday, we are also having local high school entertainment and dance studios entertain from 2-4 p.m. There is going to be a lot to do.”

Snowden said that the MSAHF is going to begin a softball and baseball playoff at the south end of the county to act in lieu of a sports breakfast.

“We are going to have a playoff. Hopefully, since we’re not able to have our outstanding athletes participate, as we normally would, in our sports breakfast, this will be an exciting opportunity for athletes in the area to join a team,” Snowden said. “We are preparing as best we can, going into the fall with a lot of things unknown, but there is going to be a lot to see and do over that weekend.”

For more information about the MSAHF, visit

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