Wild Edibles Festival

The 2019 Wild Edibles Festival is Coming Soon to a State Park Near You

Watoga State Park Naturalist, Chris Bartley, is visibly excited about this year’s Wild Edibles Festival. When I stopped at the park headquarters to talk to him last Thursday, he started off our conversation discussing the major, and likely better, changes to the format of the event. “Instead of scheduled classes this year, we are trying an ‘open forum’ approach. The downside to having people sign up for classes when other classes are being conducted simultaneously is that people have to choose between presentations. Often they are forced to miss other classes they would like to attend. With this change, people can move from demonstration to demonstration and have a full experience. “

Naturalist Chris Bartley, Watoga State Park

Chris said this year’s wild edibles festival event will be held at the picnic shelter.T This spacious area allows attendees to visit demonstrations on various aspects of gathering and utilizing wild edibles, including herbal and medicinal uses. Additionally, several naturalists from other state parks will be on hand to conduct guided wild edible walks.

This year’s Wild Edibles Festival kicks off at 3 PM on Friday, May 3 with a guided foraging hike around Watoga Lake. Those interested should assemble at the Activities Building, bring water, wear closed-toe shoes and clothing appropriate for the weather and water.

At 7 PM Friday Geo Derick, Keynote Speaker, will discuss Wild Medicine: The Art and the Science. Geo is a Registered Clinical Herbalist and is the founding owner, practitioner, and formulator of Geo Joys. Geo enjoys formulating custom medicines for clients that are both good tasting and therapeutic. She is no stranger to our Wild Edibles Festival. And her presentations are always well attended and popular. This presentation takes place in the Activities Building near the pool.

Activities commence at 10 AM Saturday until approximately 4 PM. Visit the many vendors, demonstrations and guided walks throughout the day, all focused on wild foods, drink, and medicines. Sample wild foods. Garlic mustard pesto, ramp pickles and chili will be available. Live music is provided by Sugar Run. Watoga Wild Edibles Festival is fun and educational!

For more information on the Wild Edibles Festival contact Christopher Bartley at (304) 799- 4087 or via email at Chris.R.Bartley@wv.gov or Contact Watoga Foundation.

A Short History of Foraging for Wild Foods

Photo of local (Pocahontas County, WV) wild edibles

The number of people who must forage for their daily sustenance decreases every year. However, some can still be found in some remote areas such as the Amazon River Basin. Agriculture, in existence for about 10,000 years, has replaced virtually all hunting and gathering societies. With the exception of sport hunting and fishing, the knowledge and skills required to procure wild foods and medicines are in danger of being lost in the industrialized world. However, on Native American lands and in Appalachia people have always consumed seasonal plants, berries, nuts, and mushrooms found in nature.

Euell Gibbons came to public attention in 1962 when he wrote best-seller, “Stalking the Wild Asparagus” It is often regarded as the classic of foraging guides. Six more books of the same or similar genre. Mr. Gibbons books were well timed for the “Back to Earth” movement of the ’60s and ’70s. They are appreciated by the growing number of people interested in foraging for wild foods.

Euell Gibbons was also known as spokesman for Post Grape Nuts during this period. His commercials would often start with “Ever eat a pine tree?” “Many parts are edible.” The commercials ended with “the taste of Post Grape Nuts reminds me of wild hickory nuts.” You can see some of these old commercials on YouTube., as well as many funny parodies of Euell. In on he is eating a bowl of Grape Nuts and pauses to say “Of course I don’t usually eat it (Grape Nuts) out of a bowl like this, usually I just eat it out of my shoe. Sometimes I just eat my shoe…”

In the last decade or so there has been a resurgence of interest in collecting wild foods. Some aspects of this pastime have become trendy. Afew years ago upscale restaurants offered such dishes as nettle salad, causing a rush on nettle foraging. Too bad it wasn’t the invasive garlic mustard. Even the term ‘foraging’ has been replaced by ‘wildcrafting’ in many circles. Pocahontas County is thankfully not one of them.

But on the whole the revived interest in wild foods has been a good thing. Bringing attention to environmental concerns such as the damage perpetrated by invasive species, and getting people off their couches and into the outdoors are positive developments. Books on the subject of foraging have become more sophisticated through the years, offering delicious and healthy recipes. An improvement of the standby method of the ’60s which directed foragers to boil everything and then drench it in butter.

Speaking of recipes for wild foods, I set out on a trail last week with the intention of harvesting a handful of ramps and a mess of wintercress, also called creasy greens. I unexpectedly stumbled upon an old apple tree that had a dozen or so morels circling it. On my way back home I gave thought to how I might prepare this trio of wild delicacies.

Wild Edibles dinner from the bounty of Pocahontas County, WV

Dinner that evening consisted of sautéed ramps and creasy greens with roasted walnuts topped with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction. The delicious greens sat alongside a morel po-boy with homemade aioli. This sumptuous plate was paired with a Dogfish Head Watermelon IPA.

That sounded a lot like foodie-speak, didn’t it?

Sorry, I meant to say that I fried up those shrooms and slid em into a bun with a slather of mayo. Then I boiled up those greens, put a stick of butter on em, and washed it all down with a Miller Lite.

Happy Hiking and Foraging,

Ken Springer

2019 Special Events at Watoga State Park


Green Day Hike

Saturday, March 16. Be sure to wear your green for this 2019 Special Event at Watoga State Park. And join us at 10:00am at the parking lot just a half mile above Cabin 2 along Island Lick Road as we venture along Monongaseneka Trail. Along the way, we will discover the different shades of green, whether it is with grasses, mosses, flowers, or any other
plant. Once we reach the top, while we may not see the pot of gold, the view is breathtaking, as it will allow you to see the town of Seebert. We will also have some green goodies awaiting the arrival to the top of this hike. Please dress accordingly for this hike, and make sure to bring water. This hike is an intermediate level, and has some steep inclines. Round trip on this hike is 4 miles.


Gold Rush

Saturday, April 6

Calling all anglers! The waters are set to run gold on April 6 at Watoga State Park Lake. This is a fishy 2019 Watoga Special Event! There will be a very special stocking this date, where golden rainbow trout will be the only fish stocked, but will be the same capacity as a regular stocking. Be sure to come to the park early so that you can catch one of these beauties and make memories!

Quilter’s Retreat with Debbie Walker

Thursday, April 11–Saturday, April 13

Enjoy fellowship with other quilters of all experience levels at this quilter 2019 Watoga Special Event. This three day retreat will give you hands-on experience and advice from one of the best. Space is limited for this retreat. For more information on specific workshops, please contact Debbie Walker at (304) 653-4150. To reserve your spot for this weekend, please contact Christopher Bartley at Watoga at (304) 799-4087.

Stitchin’ Across West Virginia

Friday, April 26 – Sunday 28

Enjoy a weekend of playing with yarn, friends, and the great outdoors with the Kanawha City Yarn Company. Activities for the weekend include campfire cookery, an owl walk, hiking, yoga, and eating and hanging out with others wild about yarn. A class in tapestry weaving has also been scheduled and each person will go home with their own unique wall hanging. No prior knowledge or experience is necessary. Registration for the retreat should be done through Kanawha City Yarn Company by April 2 at (304) 926-8589. To make cabin reservations, please contact Watoga State Park at (304) 799-4087.

Wild Edibles Festival

Friday, May 3 – Saturday, May 4

Join us for a taste of the wild! Our event will begin on Friday evening with a hike around the lake at 3:00pm, followed by a presentation by Key Note Speaker, Georganne Derick at 7:00pm. Saturday festivities will occur at the Picnic Shelter area starting at 10:00am with various vendors, demonstrations, live music, opportunities to hike, and much more!

B.A.R.K. in the Park

Saturday, May 11

Bring your dogs, and enjoy the beauty that Watoga has to offer. This day is dedicated to your furry friends as we will embark on a short hike and learn how to become better stewards of the outdoors with our pets. Meet us at 10:00am by the boat dock near the main office to take a beautiful walk around the lake. Total distance is 1.5 miles and perfect for all ages. Please dressing accordingly, and be sure to bring water and snacks for yourself and your dogs.

Kid’s Fishing Derby

Saturday, May 18

Youth under 15 can enjoy this special day and go fishing on the lake during our annual fishing derby. Be sure to meet us between 9:00am and 10:00am to register. The derby itself will last from 10:00am – 12:00pm with prizes and certificates given out shortly afterwards. Join us for what is sure to be a great day of fishing, fellowship, and fun.

National Trails Day

Saturday, June 1

Explore Watoga State Park and see what trails it has to offer! Home to over 40 miles of hiking trail; meet us at 10:00am at the Ann Bailey trailhead parking lot, just beyond the T.M. Cheek Overlook. We will explore the Ann Bailey Watchtower, as well as the Workman Cabin. Total distance is 5 miles, and is great for all ages. Please dress accordingly, bring your water, and wear closed toe shoes.

Casting Call! Learn How to Fish

Saturday, June 8

For those who have wanted to learn how to fish, but never knew where to start, look no further. Bret Preston will be leading this workshop, and is open to all ages who have never been fishing, and will allow you to try it out for free. For more information, or to reserve your spot, call Christopher Bartley at the park office at (304) 799-4087.

History ALIVE with Mark Twain

Saturday, June 22

Join us as history comes to life when the famed author who wrote “The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, Mark Twain makes his way to
Watoga. He was also involved many other aspects of life, and will be at our Activities Building at 7:00pm to share with everyone.

History ALIVE with Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, June 28

Enjoy a history lesson from our 26 th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, who served from 1901 – 1909. Roosevelt was an avid conservationist, writer, and was also an American statesperson. Join us in the Activities Building at 7:00pm as we discover what his life was like, and to see living history!

History ALIVE with Benjamin Franklin

Friday, July 5

What better way to celebrate the Independence Day weekend, than with one of our Founding Fathers? Join us as we host Benjamin Franklin in the Activities Building at 7:00pm. A truly remarkable man, Franklin will share some of his life stories with us. This is a program you do not want to miss.

History ALIVE with Ostenaco

Friday, July 19

Join us by the Campfire Ring at Riverside Campground at 7:00pm as we bring history to life with the Native American leader, Ostenaco. Ostenaco was crucial in the settlement of current West Virginia. You do not want to miss some of this living history. In the event of rain, the presentation will take place in the Activities Building.

Mountain Trails Challenge

Saturday, August 10

Trail running – it’s a challenge. Two different races, a 5K run and a Half Marathon both begin at 8:30am from the Beaver Creek Campground. Event is sponsored by the Watoga State Park Foundation. For more information, or to register to race, please visit the website www.watogafoundation.org/race

Watoga Art in the Park

Saturday, August 31 – Sunday, September 1

Held at the Picnic Shelter area, this festival has something for all ages. Join us to participate in various demonstrations, workshops, purchase art, listen to live music, and so much more! Festival will go on from 9:00am – 5:00pm on both days.

Disc Golf Tournament

Saturday, September 7

Enjoy the cooler air and participate in our first ever disc golf tournament. There is no entry fee, and registration will begin at 9:00am, with the tournament beginning at 10:00am and going until all participants have played. You can participate either individually, or in pairs. Door prizes will be given out shortly afterwards.

Halloween in the Campground

Friday, October 25 – Saturday, October 26

Participate and enjoy a spooky good time at Watoga as we celebrate Halloween in Riverside Campground. This event will have several activities throughout the weekend, including movies, night hike, pumpkin decorating contest, Trick-or-Treating in the campground, and much more!

Watoga Winter Bird Count

Saturday, December 7

With the annual Christmas Bird count conducted by the National Audubon Society just around the corner, join us to perform our own bird count within the park for the day. This event is great for all ages and levels of expertise. Learn how to use binoculars and field guides, as well as bird habitat and food preferences each species has in the area. Meet at the Activities Building at 8:00am.

Halloween in the Campground October 26 & 27, 2018

Join us for a spooky good time as we celebrate Halloween in the Campground October 26 & 27, 2018  in Watoga’s Riverside Campground. This is your chance to decorate your campsite and become the winner of our Halloween in the Campground Decorating Contest.  Even more, everyone can take part in the trick-or-treat!  Even those not staying in the campground are encouraged to participate in all activities including the trick or trunk or treat!  Therefore, mMake sure you stop by campsite 15 on Saturday and see local residents Dustin and Devan Simmons, as they demonstrate how to make apple butter. You will also have a chance to help if you choose.  There will also be samples for you to take home while they last.

Friday October 26

6PM Movie in the Campground: Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin

Bring a lawn chair or something else to sit on and join us at the Riverside Campground as we watch the family friendly movie “Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin.”

7 PM Movie in the Campground: Ghostbusters

Meet us for our second movie of the evening, as we watch the classic movie “Ghostbusters” on our inflatable screen. Be sure to bring something to sit on. Snacks will be provided.

9 PM Glow Walk

Light the sky with glow sticke Watoga Halloween in the Campground 2018What better way to celebrate Halloween than with a Night Hike. We will hike to the light of glow sticks! Bring you glow sticks and join us by the check in station to help us light up the sky as we walk around the campground. Be sure to wear closed to shoes.

Saturday October 27

11 AM Campfire Cookery

Join us for some fun and fellowship at Riverside Campground behind the check-in station. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on as we cook up some goodies in a Dutch oven over a campfire. All ages are welcome. Samples of the pumpkin cobbler available!

2PM Pumpkin Carving and Decorating

Carve a jack-o-lantern at Watoga Halloween in the Campground 2018Bring a pumpkin, have some fun with art and decorate your pumpkin with paint or by carving. We will provide carving tools and paint. Parents/guardians are asked to assist children in any way possible as they need. Pumpkins can then be taken back to be used for the evening activities.

5PM Halloween Costume Contest

Open to youth up to age 14, our Costume Contest will begin at the Gorup Campsite at the lower lot of Riverside. Prizes will be given to the best costumes as determined by our judges.

6PM Trick or Trunk or Treat

This activity is open to anyone young at heart who would like to participate whether camping, staying in a cabin or local to the area. If you are planning to hand out candy, please arrive at Riverside Campground between 4:30 and 5:30 pm. Once there, you will be given instructions as to where to park. We look forward to everyone partipating!

7:30 PM Ghost Stories, Spooky Tales, and S’mores

What would Halloween be without being able to hear some spooky ghost stories? Bring a lawn chair, a blanket, or something else to sit on. Come join us by the fire ring in the campground to listen to some ghost stories told by story tellers Cully McCurdy and Bugs Stover. Afterwards we will have the makings for s’mores!

Watoga State Park Foundation Inc News June 2, 2018

Watoga State Park Foundation Inc News June 2, 2018.  following the bi-monthly Watoga State Park Foundation Inc. board meeting held at 10 am on Saturday, June 2, 2018 at the Watoga State Park offices 4848 Watoga Park Rd, Marlinton, WV 24954.

After the usual minutes and reports, the board re-elected the current slate of officers for a new three year term.

President: John Goodwin
Vice-President: Kenneth Springer
Treasurer: Mac Gray
Secretary: Maureen Conley

Wayne T Pollard of Beaver Creek Rd, just outside the Park became the Foundation’s newest member. Wayne retired from First Energy and values the park for preservation of the natural world for future generations.

Rental Cabins

Rental cabin at Watoga State ParkPark visitors rented more cabins in May with  87 more  rental nights than May, 2017.

The Workman Cabin, a historic structure located at the head of the Rock Run Watershed and close to the Old Growth Area manifests 2 important critical repair needs.  A hole in the roof, caused by a fallen tree limb, needs repaired.  And the bottom courses of logs need replaced and foundation needs shoring up. Additionally, the Foundation and Park are currently working with a grant, and this work needs to happen as soon as possible.

Additional Park Improvements

Watoga Superintendent Jody Spencer announced upcoming West Virginia Department of Highways (WVDOH) activity in and around Watoga. The Ann Bailey Road from the parking area out to the Ann Bailey lookout will be improved by WVDOH, as will the Laurel Run Rd from the end of Beaver Creek Rd to the Laurel Run Primitive Campground and Kennison Run Trailhead.

Upcoming improvements will also be made to the swimming pool and Riverside Campground.  The cabin improvement project is nearing completion.  All CCC era cabins are receiving renovations and improvements to increase their comfort and desirability.

The US Forest Service is funding restroom construction along the Allegheny Trail near the old air strip and Beaver Creek Campground. A wifi hotspot will be activated at the Beaver Creek check in station soon.

Activities Upcoming

Naturalist Chris Bartley has a busy summer scheduled for Watoga. Look for another blog post about Naturalist activities.

The Watoga Mountain Trail Challenge is scheduled for Aug 11, 2018. Hence, a volunteer coordinator is needed for that event.

Gail Hyre from Watoga Art in the Park visited the meeting to discuss this year’s program. The 2nd annual Watoga Art in the Park is to be held Sept 1 & 2, 2018 at Watoga State Park. https://watogaartinthepark.com/

New trail signs have come in and volunteer help would be welcomed to install the new trail signs.

Watoga Naturalist Activities Memorial Day Weekend 2018

Watoga State Park is offering Naturalist Activities throughout the 2018 Memorial Day Weekend.  Join us!

Friday May 25, 2018

3 PM  History Hike

Watoga has a long rich history even from the time before its official opening as a Park 80 years ago.  Join Park Naturalist Christopher Bartley near Park Headquarters building for a 1.5 mile walk around the lake.  Please wear closed toe shoes and bring along something to drink.

7 PM What’s Bugging You

Dragon FliesHave you seen an insect that you never saw  or one you did not know what it was?  Meet us at the Nature Center located near the swimming pool park lot as we explore the insects we have around us.  Afterward, we will look at our surroundings and see what tiny creatures we can find.

9 PM Float Your Boat

Cap the evening off with a peaceful and relaxing evening on the lake as we learn about nocturnal animals, park history, star gazing, and anything else you would like to talk about.  You can choose to take a paddleboat out, or bring you own watercraft.  Sign up and purchase a ticket in the main office for $5 per boat.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

1 PM Watoga Wildlife: Birds

Join Naturalist Chris Bartley at the Nature Center, located beside the Activities Building near the swimming pool parking lot and learn about our feathered friends that can be found in the area.  You can also hear the different sounds that each bird makes and see if you can identify what each bird is.  Kids can also make a fun craft.

3 PM  Nest in Peace

Want to be able to attract song birds to the own backyard?  Meet Naturalist Chris Barley by the Nature Center located near the Activities Building and Swimming Pool parking lot to build a bird house.  Each kit is $10 and all materials are provided.

7 PM Campfire Cookery

Join Watoga staff for an evening of fun and fellowship at the Riverside Campground behind the check-in station.  Bring a lawn chair or a blanket to sit on as we cook up some dessert in a Dutch over over a campfire.  All ages are welcome and will be able to sample the banana bread we make.

9 PM Stories and S’mores

Wind down from the day and enjoy your time sitting around the campfire ring at Riverside Campground behind the check-in station.  We will have marshmallows to roast and  all the fixings to make s’mores.  Campfire stories are encouraged as long as they are family friendly and appropriate.

Sunday May 27, 2018

11 AM Worship Service

Earth from spaceMeet us at the Amphitheatre located behind the Activities Building near the Swimming Pool parking lot for a non-denominational worship service.  In the event of rain we will relocate inside the Activities Building.

1 PM Watoga Wildlife:  Salamanders

Join us at the Nature Center located beside the Activities Building near the swimming pool parking lot and learn about these snake-like amphibians with legs.  Afterward, we will take a small walk to look for and identify the salamanders found in the area.

3 PM  Tie Dye T-Shirts

Have some fun with art and make a keepsake to take home to remind you of your time here with a Watoga State Park Tie Dye T-Shirt.  Please sign up in the main office and bring your ticket with you to the Activities Building.  Cost of shirt will be $8 or $10 depending on size.  Shirt sizes from Youth Small to Adult 3XL

7PM  Family Movie Night

Join Park staff for a family fun evening at the Picnic Shelter area as we watch a family friendly movie on our inflatable movie screen.  Be sure to bring a lawn chair or something to sit on.  Popcorn will be provided.

9PM  Owl Prowl

Portrait of an owlMeet Park staff at the Picnic Shelter area as we go on a short walk looking and listening for owls.  We will be using different calls for each of the different species of owls in the area to entice these birds of prey to come in.  Be sure to wear closed toe shoes.

 

 

 

 

 

Watoga Events 2018

Here is a listing of Watoga Events 2018.  Fun for your and your family!

Watoga Geocaching

Watoga Geocaching EventWatoga will host their second annual geocache weekend, with over 25 geocaches currently hidden, and at least 20 more hidden throughout the park. Many will have a first to find prize, and all will be available on the geocaching website. If you would like to input coordinates manually into a GPS, we will have those available in the main office. Come enjoy your time at the park exploring, hiking along the trails, and having fun geocaching. Call the park today at (304) 799-4087 to rent a cabin for the weekend to find all the geocaches hidden, and see what Watoga has to offer!

Kid’s Fishing Derby

Calling all anglers 13 and younger! Watoga will be hosting their annual Kid’s Fishing Derby again this year. The fishing derby will begin at 10:00am, with registration starting at 9:30am at the swimming pool parking lot, which is walking distance from where the derby will be held. Fishing derby will conclude at 1:00pm with awards and certificates being distributed shortly after. For more information, please contact the park at (304) 799-4087.

National Trails Day

Come and enjoy any of our 40+ miles of hiking trails available in the park. On this day, we will lead a hike to the Ann Bailey watchtower. This guided hike will begin at 9:00 am meeting at the Ann Bailey trailhead. Please plan to bring water, a packed lunch/snacks, and wear closed-toed shoes. For additional information and to make reservations, be sure to call the park main office.

Three Rivers Avian Center

Watoga State Park is pleased to welcome back the Three Rivers Avian Center to thThree Rivers Avian Center Evente Recreation Building. There will be a presentation beginning at 7:00pm with live birds of prey, including owls, hawks, and eagles. Join us for an evening event that will be fun for all ages. Be sure to reserve your cabin today for this event!

Back to School Bash and Pool Party

As we get closer to the end of summer, it’s time to have one last bit of fun in the sun before school starts. Come join us by the pool as we soak in the rays from 1:00pm – 6:00pm Music, games, food and drinks, and giveaway prizes are just some of the fun in store. For more information and to make cabin or campground reservations, please contact the park at (304) 799-4087.

Watoga Mountain Trail Challenge Races

Watoga Mountain Trail Challenge RacesWith two different races, the Mountain Trails Challenge is a great way to see the trails at Watoga. The races consist of a challenging 5K and a Half Marathon. The 5K is a great introduction to trail running. The Half Marathon is a great challenge for even the most avid runner. Both races will begin at 8:30am, and will leave from the Beaver Creek Campground check-in station. This event is sponsored by the Watoga State Park Foundation. For more information, and to see a map of the race course, please visit the official website www.watogafoundation.org/race. Call the park office today to make your reservations for your cabin or campsite!

Disk Golf Tournament

Grab your Frisbees and head over to the first Disc Golf Tournament being held at the park. Our nine hole course is nestled in the woods, and is sure to challenge any team. Registration will begin at 9:00am, with the tournament beginning at 10:00am. For more information, please contact the park at (304) 799-4087

Watoga Art In The Park

Watoga will once again host their Art in the Park Festival weekend. This weekend will feature lots of arts and crafts from juried artists. From live demonstrations, music, art for sale, food, and an area for the kids, there is something for everyone! The event will be held at the Picnic Shelter area. For more information about the event, please visit the official Facebook page. Call today to reserve your cabin for this fantastic event at (304) 799-4087.