By Stephen Smoot
For almost two decades, the Town of Franklin has greeted the arrival of spring with a celebration. Although it has changed much over the years, the draws continue to be fishing, family, food, and fun.
Elizabeth Scott, executive director of the Pendleton County Chamber of Commerce, has released the schedule for Trout Fest, which will take place on May 5 and 6.
The fun starts at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 5, with a dinner at the community building provided by Deans Gap Farms of Fort Seybert. Attendees can enjoy smoked trout, chicken breasts, and macaroni and cheese, among other favorites. Dinner tickets bought ahead of time at the Town of Franklin office.
Taking the main stage at 6 p.m. will be Nashville based recording artist Nat Frederick. He has also headlined events at Pipestem Resort State Park and Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company. He is spending the whole weekend and will help with the rodeo as well.
From 4 to 6 p.m., those who wish to participate in the trout rodeo can register. After six, registration will move to the main stage area. Vendors can also start selling at 4 p.m.
Also appearing on Friday evening is the morning voice of West Virginia Metro News and host of the Saturday morning program “West Virginia Outdoors.” Chris Lawrence will broadcast on Saturday morning from Trout Fest.
The trout rodeo itself will last from 8 a.m. until noon on Saturday, May 6. As Scott explained, “one hundred fish will be tagged, but not all tagged fish are winners.” Each tagged fish has its own unique number. Numbers will be selected on a lottery basis. A single $1,000 prize, plus other prizes from $5 to $50, will be awarded. Scott emphasized that “the biggest fish will not necessarily be the winner.” Eli Whetzel of Three River Guiding will donate the grand prize.
Winners must be present to claim their prize.
The range will extend from John Harman’s pond to the grist mill just downstream of the low water bridge. The fish come from Sugar Grove Trophy Trout Farm and are paid for by Greer Industries, Tom and Theresa Calhoun will allow children from the ages of 12 and under to fish in the spillway.
Morning rodeo registration commences at 6:30 a.m. during a breakfast held by Pendleton County Senior and Family Services. Scott shared that “it was really nice that they agreed to do that. All the organizations have pitched in to help.” She added praise for Bob Grimm, saying that “he is the mastermind of getting everything organized for the festival.”
Besides the trout rodeo, attendees can enjoy an entire day of perusing vendor booths, enjoying music, or participating in crafts.
A number of regional organizations and individuals stepped up to support Trout Fest. Platinum level sponsors include Pendleton Community Bank, Potomac Hardware, Trail End Outfitters, Pendleton Community Care, Greer Lime and Pendleton County Chamber of Commerce.
The sole gold sponsor is West Virginia Wonderful Rentals.
Silver sponsors include Grant Memorial Hospital, Summit Community Bank, Grant County Bank, Devon Rogers, State Farm Agent, VanMeter Real Estate, Deep Clean Machines Laundry, Pendleton Manor, Thorn Spring Park, Blue Grass Valley Bank, Hoover Trucking, Mouth of Seneca Pottery and Harpco LLC.
Bronze sponsors include T&K Markets, Pendleton Senior and Family Services, and Dean’s Gap Farm.
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