Get ‘em before they’re gone: 5 late summer festivals

State Fair of WV – August 10-19

Just one month to go before autumn starts. Where did the time go?! Fortunately, there’s plenty of summerto go around in Southern West Virginia. From carnival extravaganzas to music festivals, there are all kinds of events to enjoy.

Get ready for:

Appalachian String Band Music Festival

Aug. 2-6

It’s one of America’s top mountain music events. Spanning 5 days, the Appalachian String Band Music Festival in Clifftop draws approximately 3,000 musicians and fans every year.

Stage concerts cover just a fraction of the schedule. There are banjo, fiddle, and composition contests, and square dances. Watch movies, try yoga, or meet fierce birds of prey, too! The entire family is invited — even leashed dogs.

You can also bring tents. Camp Washington Carver, the festival host, has rough campsites available. For many folks, it’s a tradition no summer can be without. Wander through and discover tunes that have been passed down for generations. It’s even better if you bring along that banjo, guitar, or fiddle.

State Fair of WV

Aug. 10-19

Come on down to the Fairlea fairgrounds! Nearly a century old, the enormous State Fair of West Virginia combines agricultural showmanship with all the trappings: carnival rides, exhibits, entertainers, and more.

This year’s festival doesn’t lack for variety, either. It never does! Bengal tigers, birds of prey, tightrope acrobats, and a hypnotist are just the beginning. Farm animals add to the mix. True to its agricultural roots, the fair always has livestock shows, draft horse pulls, and harness races. Expect some rodeo, too.

Concerts are another highlight. Country singers Aaron Lewis, Clay Walker, and John Michael Montgomery will perform this year, as will Casting Crowns, an award-winning Christian rock band. That’s just a preview. You’ll hear plenty more from the likes of Josh Turner — creator of “Time Is Love,” 2012’s most popular country song — plus Martina McBride and many others.

Appalachian Festival

Aug. 25-27

This fair is so big, it encompasses the Beckley region. Travel from one event to another, sampling fine arts, cuisine, and music.

The Appalachian Festival’s top attractions include:

  • Appalachian Arts and Crafts Fair: a quilt show with more than 100 craftsmen fill the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center all three days.
  • Taste of Appalachia: Beckley’s downtown block party with Appalachian music and jazz, gourmet meals from local restaurants, and more. Aug. 26 from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Tamarack: this modern art center in Beckley will have special demonstrations, food samples, and book signings all three days.
  • Shade Tree Car Club: classics, trucks, and motorcycles will line up at the Beckley Auto Mall on Aug. 26. from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All Appalachian Festival events are listed on the official site.

Summersville Lake Lighthouse Festival and Car Show

Aug. 26

Give summer a grand farewell with this casual fair. It has a motley assortment of unusual activities, from archery to songs by an Elvis tribute artist. Tamarack artists will also set up ceramics, beauty products, and handiwork.

Car fans have an excuse to drop by, too. The Summersville Lake Lighthouse Festival attracts sporty classics of all types (the more chrome, the better). And because Cabela’s is a major sponsor, there’s even a trophy for “Best Truck.”

This is a popular outing for the kids, too. Treat them to face painting, balloon animals, and goodies at a Girl Scouts bake sale! Got teens? Maybe they’ll want some henna “tattoos.” Plus, you’re really close to Summersville Lake. Pack a cooler and some beach towels! It’s a great way to bid farewell to summer.

What’s your favorite Southern West Virginia festival? If you have one, share your recommendations right here!