Now in its 76th year, the West Virginia Poultry Convention and Festival celebrates one of the state’s leading agricultural industries. Part educational event and part entertainment, the weeklong festival from July 13-20 attracts locals and visitors alike.
“There’s really a little bit of something to appeal to everybody,” said Hardy County Commissioner and retired West Virginia University Extension Service Agent David J. Workman. “People hone in on certain segments. We may get 200 producers and industry supporters at our educational events, and 200 or 300 people at the West Virginia teen and queen poultry pageants. And several thousand people line the streets for the parade.
“I don’t know how many tons of candy are distributed, but it’s fun to see,” he said with a laugh.
The festival celebrates all aspects of poultry farming and includes everything from poultry pageants to a window and yard decorating contest centered around a poultry theme. The Youth Day Program, which takes place on Wednesday, July 17, includes 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) poultry and egg judging, a barbecue cook-off and more.
“We usually have more than 100 youth participating in the 4H and FFA events,” said Workman. “The barbecue cook-off is especially interesting; they use their own unique recipes to prepare chicken halves or turkey tenders.”
This year, the festival is also bringing back the kiddie parade as a way to provide even more family fun.
The Fireman’s Poultry Parade will take place on Thursday, July 18, as will the Hen & Gobbler Classic, a golf tournament that raises money for the WVPA Scholarship Program and the Moorefield Volunteer Fire Company. On Saturday, July 20, there will be a Christmas in July Craft & Vendor Show at Moorefield High School, and a Muzzleloader Turkey Shoot and Skeet Shoot at the Hardy County Rod & Gun Club.
“The parade has been part of the event for a lot of years and folks from all over the community participate,” said Workman. “Because the local fire department is instrumental, it’s called the Fireman’s Parade, though it’s filled with floats and entries that represent local businesses, politicians, poultry industry suppliers, sponsors, allied industries and more. It brings everyone out.”
According to Workman, the event was started more than seven decades ago as a way to bring people together.
“There used to be a lot of independent producers scattered around the state, and the industry was really segmented,” he explained. “The West Virginia Poultry Association (WVPA) was organized to promote the industry and to provide educational opportunities for farmers to help them become better producers.
“While poultry has grown into a vertically integrated industry today, family farmers are still the heart and soul of the industry,” he added.
Producers and those allied with the industry can choose to attend evening programs on Tuesday and Wednesday that include dinner and a presentation by Joe Sadonis discussing solar as an alternative energy source. Jason Dalrymple, nutrition management specialist at the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, will also provide an environmental update each night.
“Right now, we have at least one farm in West Virginia utilizing solar energy and more are in transition,” said WVPA Secretary Cindy Shreve. “We’re seeing more and more folks looking at alternative energy sources.”
The WVPA annual meeting will be held on Friday, July 19, and will include comments from state agencies, institutions and industry leaders. That evening, WVU Davis College, the WVU Extension Service and Summit Community Bank will host a reception at Misty Mountain Event Barn, followed by the President’s Dinner. Special entertainment will be provided by Teal Steel.
“The President’s Dinner gives the association the opportunity to recognize growers who have excelled in the past year and it’s a great opportunity to come together and socialize,” said Shreve. “The public is also welcome to attend this dinner, which will include local farm-to-table foods.”