You already know that West Virginia’s motto is “Wild and Wonderful.” Event planners in the Morgantown area have taken that phrase one step further as autumn approaches, naming their activities “Wild and WonderFALL.”
Just a short trip from the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., areas, Morgantown offers a wide variety of entertainment, as well as some challenges, for visitors.
“There are always things going on in September,” said Susan Riddle, who promotes the area. “It’s like managing abundance here. Families not only have plenty to do, but the scenery is really beautiful with the leaves changing color in the mountains.”
The 25th annual West Virginia Wine and Jazz Festival takes place Sept. 15–16 at Camp Muffly, located southeast of Morgantown off Interstate 68, at 1477 Four-H Camp Road. Shuttle service is available at the Mountainlair on the West Virginia University campus. There is also parking on-site.
“If you love great food, wine, and wonderful music, this is right up your alley,” said Jeff Miller, president of West Virginia Wine and Jazz Fest, the nonprofit organization that runs the festival.
All proceeds from the festival go to promote music in the schools and other programs.
Miller said eight wineries will be participating. Adults who buy tickets receive a wine glass, a corkscrew and free samples of wine.
“West Virginia has all kinds of wine,” Miller said. “Not just from grapes. Delicious wine can be made from peaches. There is also a honey- based wine called mead.”
Music will be performed by professionals, as well as students from WVU and West Virginia Wesleyan College. Five bands perform on Saturday and four on Sunday.
There also will be plenty of food from local vendors along with craft items from local artisans. A large tent will be erected in case the weather doesn’t cooperate. Festival hours are Saturday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. and Sunday, noon–6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at wvwineandjazz.com.
For those who like a challenge, there’s the fourth annual WVU Medicine Morgantown Marathon, also held Sept. 15–16. The weekend begins Saturday with a Health and Wellness Expo at the WVU Coliseum on Monongahela Boulevard, 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
The three marathon races are run on Sunday, beginning and ending at the coliseum. The races are: the half marathon or “Thirteener,” which is 13.1 miles; the Mountain Mama 8K, which is just shy of 5 miles in length; and the full marathon of 26.2 miles.
Jamie Summerlin, director of the event, said the full marathon of 26.2 “almost heavenly miles” isn’t known as a fast race, but more as a test of physical and mental strength.
“You run through all seven wards of Morgantown and face hills before you finish,” Summerlin said. “It starts tough and ends tougher. Over the past three years, we’ve had more than 5,000 runners from almost all 50 states, and expect about 1,200 this year.”
The money from the event is donated to Operation Welcome Home, a nonprofit job placement organization dedicated to helping veterans and their families overcome barriers to employment.
Later in the month is ARTS WALK, 6–9 p.m. Sept. 28 in downtown Morgantown. Visitors can stroll through more than 40 downtown businesses and see artwork from local artists. Music and live entertainment also will be on hand.
On Sept. 29, the Home Run and Hops Craft Beer Festival will be held at the Monongalia County Ballpark, sponsored by the ballpark and the West Virginia Black Bears, a minor league team of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The festival is held noon–6 p.m., with gates opening at 11:30 a.m. There will be more than 50 beers to try, a corn hole tournament, and plenty of food. No one under 21 will be permitted in the ballpark, though.
For four days of fun and good eats, take a drive about 30 minutes outside of Morgantown to the 77th annual Buckwheat Festival, Sept. 27–30 at the fairgrounds in Kingwood. The event is full of parades, arts and crafts, a car show, a carnival, live-stock, a pageant, and, of course, those delicious buckwheat cake dinners served all weekend long.