Upper West Fork Park: Music, Food, and Fun

From Encounter Calhoun:

“Upper West Fork Park:
Year-Round Music, Food, and Fun”

Tucked along Route 16 in the southern end of Calhoun County lies an affordable get-a-way, complete with camper hookups and rough camping along the babbling waters of the Upper West Fork of the Little Kanawha River. If you arrive on the right weekend, you may find yourself enjoying one of the Upper West Fork Parks four annual events.

The Upper West Fork Park’s Ramp Dinner in the spring is a feast. Saturday morning, before the event, cooks are on hand by 7:30 a.m. to fry 120 pounds of bacon. Nearly 400 pounds of potatoes are peeled and cooked, and 72 dozen eggs scrambled. Eighty pounds of ham are cooked, and desserts are sliced and spread across six long tables, all donated by the great cooks that live on the “Fork.”

Although the doors open at 4 p.m., the crowd will began lining up shortly after 2:30. In the past, some stood in line more than two and a half hours.

In 2004, the 32nd annual Ramp Dinner was recorded for a documentary on Ramp Festivals, entitled “The King of Stink.” The film aired a year later on West Virginia PBS.

Memorial Day weekend, the park is filled for The Upper West Fork Park Bluegrass Festival — one of two bluegrass festivals held each year, each featuring local and legendary performers. The annual Fireman’s Bluegrass Festival, scheduled the second weekend in August each year, concludes with a fireworks display. Festival highlights include not only great old timey music, but also pork barbecue sandwiches, with meat roasted under a pit pavilion.

Octoberfest is an old-world celebration of harvest time. Fresh apple butter is made in a copper pot over an open fire, and the Octoberfest Parade on Route 16 starts at 1 p.m. There are games and prizes for the children, in addition to a sack race and a three-legged race. Music is provided by several local bands.

A weekly traditional bluegrass jam on Saturday evenings begins in the fall, and runs through spring. In the summer, the park hosts the Calhoun County Farmer’s Market twice a week.

Every day of the year, the Upper West Fork Park offers free rough camping, and electric for campers available for only $5 a night. The community building and the outside shaded pavilion is free – on a first come, first served basis.

Many descendants of the pioneer families of the Upper West Fork Community plan their family reunion at the park for the same weekend each year. Relatives from across the United States gather at the park to reminisce, welcome new members and remember the passing of the old.

The air conditioned community building not only plays host to reunions, but also may be rented for showers, birthday parties, business meetings or club events.

Of course, the staple features of the park also exist, including playground, ball fields, picnic tables and outdoor flush toilets.

The park has also added a hidden treasure this year; a geocache. Geocaching has become a popular “sport,” and is spreading through the nation and the state. The UWF Park geocache was hidden in May 2005.

For more information about services at the Upper West Fork Park, call Sharon Settle at (304) 655-8280.