Ramps and lumberjacks, oh my! Nothing welcomes spring to southern West Virginia like the Camp Creek State Park Lumberjack Competition and Ramp Feast on April 27.
The day begins with a flower and bird walk at 8 a.m., with Bibbee Nature Club followed by the West Virginia culinary tradition of ramp casserole, brown beans, cornbread, slaw and a drink for $12.
What exactly is a ramp? A ramp is a wild onion that is only grown in the Eastern parts of the United States. For years, they were a staple in many Appalachian kitchen, used in dishes or eaten raw. The taste is like a mix of garlic and onion. But they hard to find in the wild because they grow slowly. Also, never ask a West Virginian the location of their ramps; its a secret. Another reason why ramps are so popular is because they aren’t found in any produce sections of the grocery store. These wild onions can only be found in the woods.
The competition, featuring the country’s best, is free to watch and will run from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m.-3 p.m. Event organizer and lumberjack competitor Brian Wamsley said 18-20 lumberjacks and 2-3 lumber jills from all over the United States will compete for prizes. Wamsley, originally from Elkins,W.Va., competes in 40 shows a year throughout the country.
On the day of the event, men and women will compete in underhand chop, standing block, single buck race, stock chain saw, production modified chain saw and a motorcycle chainsaw. Athletes will demonstrate a variety of these disciplines based on traditional logging skills to determine the best lumberjack.
Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Jamie Null said that this event is a kick-off for the spring and summer season.
“This event brings together a spring culinary tradition of ramps, a wild onion grown throughout the area and an outdoor lumberjack competition,” Null said. “It is a great way to get outside and enjoy food and friendly competition. In addition, it is an experience. This is only ramp festival that includes a lumberjack competition in the region. You will not find anything like it.”
According to Camp Creek State Park Superintendent Frank Ratcliffe there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy on the day of the festival. Please bring a lawn chair, as seating is limited during the event.
“The waterfalls are still the highlight of Camp Creek,” Ratcliffe said. “This is also the best season to find and look at wildflowers.”
Funds raised by the event go towards the Camp Creek State Park and Forest Foundation.
Camping and RV sites are available.
For more information about the festival and competition, call Camp Creek State Park at (304) 425-9481.
This post was last updated on April 1, 2019