RICHWOOD, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) – Cory Chambers, a member of the Cherry River Festival Committee, says the small city of Richwood is teeming with residents and guests, all celebrating the week-long Cherry River Festival, or, what the locals refer to as “Homecoming.”
The city was meant to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its charter at last year’s festival, which was canceled due to COVID-19.
“This week is one of the last weeklong festival events in West Virginia, besides the State Fair and other prominent festivals,” Chambers said. “For a small town, this really is a time when everybody comes home. When it got canceled last year, it really deflated everyone’s spirit.”
According to Chambers, the festival not only changes the air of Richwood as residents are suddenly washing their windows and sweeping their porches to prepare for the event, but it also creates a huge economic impact for the local businesses.
“I am not going to say that one week out of the year keeps all businesses open, but it’s kind of like the cherry on top. It’s an outlier week that does help them all year. There is an economic impact, and you can see it,” he explained. “Businesses stay open later and bring in new things just to be able to utilize the amount of people that are coming into the town. Our hotels are full. All of our Airbnb’s are booked. Our restaurants and bars are open a little later. From top to bottom, it’s a huge impact on every business in town, and for a small town, that’s what pushes them over the top.”
The incredible boost that the festival gives the town only made its cancelation last year that much more upsetting.
Chambers said that is the part that hurt him the most.
“When we decided to cancel, we lost that impact that this has on the local businesses. Having a good time is great, but what this brings to the table for our local businesses is huge, and it really was sad to have to announce that they weren’t going to get that support last year.”
For that reason, the festival committee is trying to pack two years of fun and visitors into one event. They are accomplishing this by introducing new rides, new activities, new bands and more to the festival.
“We are really just, in every area, trying to make it a little bit better. That was our goal for this: to make it bigger and better,” Chambers said. “This is such an amazing week for our little town, and we take a lot of pride in it. Richwood is the perfect example of our state as a whole. We don’t have a lot, but we are very thankful for what we do have. We take pride in it, and we make the best out of things.
“The city seems more excited. This is important to them, and they are celebrating that. I think not having it last year made people realize how much it really means to them.”
The Cherry River Festival kicked off earlier this week and will conclude on Saturday, August 7.