I love small towns and their quirkiness. West Virginia is full of little towns and close communities and Main streets that are a block long and consist of a hardware store and Baptist church. I love the small towns in West Virginia, because they all seem to have that one thing they’re really proud of. Like a big bridge, an old prison, batboy or a famous local festival. I went to the annual Buckwheat Festival this weekend in Kingwood, West Virginia. It’s a huge event and the town is clearly very proud of it. There were rides and carnival tents with prizes, funnel cake trucks and a building full of the winners of various 4H contests, some straightforward (see Best Potatoes) and some incomprehensible (see whatever that other picture is).
The main attraction is at the volunteer fire department/community building. You stand in a line for a few minutes and pay $7 for a “dinner” ticket (it was 10AM when we went). With your ticket, you shuffle inside and sit at picnic tables where you eat as many buckwheat pancakes and sausage patties as you want while very polite teenage boys serve you coffee. Everything is local, and the sausage was maybe the best sausage I’ve ever had. Processed right there in the Preston High School Meat Processing Facility. What? Why does a high school have a meat processing facility? Well, whatever, if they’re churning out sausage that delicious I can’t complain about the extra-curriculars in which Kingwood teenagers are partaking. Apparently, during the depression buckwheat was one of the most reliable crops, and while admittedly by most accounts crappier than real flour, it fed the kids. It did not bring about economic recovery, as was hoped, but it is gluten-free, which delighted those people who can’t eat bread, the poor souls. Alas, the Buckwheat Festival was born in 1942, presumably to get rid of all the over-produced buckwheat and to have an excuse to invite carnie folk to town. An excellent time if you can make it.