Autumn, Fall, harvest: to me this means pumpkins, apple cider and falling leaves! I love this time of year. The countryside explodes with vibrant colors of red, yellow and orange. The leaves of the trees and the temperatures begin to drop, the sun shines a little brighter, the days get shorter and the nights get longer. It's my favorite season. From the beauty of the mountains ablaze with color to the smell of apples rotting under the tree, it brings back so many good memories. After my father retired from 22 years of service in the Air Force, we settled in Mill Creek, West Virginia, to be near family. Mill Creek is a small town at the foot of Cheat Mountain in Randolph County, where you can trace heritage all the way from the first battle of the Civil War. We folks from Mill Creek like to call it - "God's country." It's one of the most beautiful places in West Virginia. There's lots of hunting and, in the winter, lots of snow. Randolph County is home to Snowshoe, Spruce Knob and Dolly Sods. God's Country!
Mill Creek neighbors other small towns like Mabie, Helvetia, an authentic small Swiss village settled in 1869, Webster Springs and Huttonsville, home of the Huttonsville Correctional Center, a maximum security prison. The prison was established as the Farm Branch of the Moundsville Penitentiary in 1937. The prisoners work the "farm" and, occasionally, escape. One summer, when I was about twelve years old, my cousin and I were sitting on her front porch. A couple of fellows walked by and we said, jokingly, "Hey, are you guys those escaped convicts?" Fortunately, they ignored us. A few minutes later, the police came by, asking if we had seen anyone.... My grandfather, Rev. P.F. Brady, operated a taxi service, among other entrepreneurial ventures. On more than one occasion, he unknowingly transported an escapee out of town. My Aunt Lois once single-handedly captured 2 escapees with a rifle. She was invited to be on the game show, "To Tell The Truth". When asked why she did it, she exclaimed "For the excitement!" She didn't fool Kitty Carlisle or any of the other panel members. Her sons, Paul Brady, Jr. and Mark Brady, went on to become Sheriffs of Randolph County.
One of the highlights of fall in Randolph County is the Mountain State Forest Festival in Elkins. It's one of the largest and oldest festivals in the state. As a member of my high school marching band, I always enjoyed marching in the parade, which typically lasts over three hours. Being the first weekend in October, usually the leaves have started turning. I can remember more than one Forest Festival when it snowed! There are lots of exhibits, arts and crafts, banjo and fiddle contests, turkey calling contests, carnival rides and the coronation of Queen Silvia.
There are a lot of good fall destinations to enjoy in the Wheeling area as well, including Oglebayfest, taking a bike ride of the Wheeling Heritage Trail System and a short drive to the Barnesville for the annual Pumpkin Festival. When the leaves are turning, it would be a good time to take a ride down the zip line at Grand Vue Park in Marshall County. Just make sure you take the time to get out and enjoy the fall and the beauty of God's creation.
Other fond memories of the fall include trick-or-treating, Mountaineer football and Thanksgiving holiday. I feel so blessed to be a part of this great state and can't wait for the leaves to start turning!