HINTON, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) – The 56th annual weeklong West Virginia Water Festival kicks off this Saturday and the residents of Hinton are ready to see their streets filled after losing last year’s festival to COVID.
“It is a community festival and a community effort,” said Kendra Ratliff, festival volunteer and vendor event coordinator.
As the event approaches, Ratliff says the town is buzzing with excitement.
“There’s just a change in the air,” she said. “It’s amazing. It’s a wonderful mood booster and morale booster for the community. We love hearing people say how happy they are to have us back, and we love the reaction visitors have with the community.”
She continued, explaining that enthusiasm for the event has only grown since last year’s cancellation.
“We plan from the time it ends until it happens again. We never stop planning, so we usually see the biggest push a few weeks before it gets started again. People are getting even more involved this year since it didn’t happen last year. People were asking questions about the festival much earlier this year, wondering if we were still having it and when it would be.”
Since the 1960s, Hinton has held the West Virginia Water Festival as a way to encourage tourism and showcase what the city has to offer.
As the event’s creators sat around their table all those years ago and thought what made Hinton unique, Ratliff said they focused on the water.
“They saw that we were the center of the Greenbrier River, the New River and the Bluestone River. This is where it all comes together. It’s a place to bring your family to get away and enjoy the water.”
Ratliff says it is clear the event is successful in drawing in guests but that it is the hospitality of the locals that keep them coming back each year.
“It’s peaceful here. This is where people come to get away,” she stated. “I always say that that is part of our charm. We care about everyone, and we want people to be happy. We try to provide a community where everyone works together.”
While this will be the first time some are able to attend the festival, others have made the event a tradition. Every year, the festival allows people to come home and visit family, participate in the events, work as a vendor or a volunteer or just revisit Hinton to have a good time.
“When people come here, we want it to feel like they are returning home,” Ratliff explained. “We are opening up our area to other people who aren’t from here and sharing why we love to live here so much. It’s a beautiful place to live, and there is something for everyone This is a time when we look forward to the community of it all.”
With seven event-filled days quickly approaching, the city of Hinton is ready to welcome all to its waterside community.
Find more information on the Wild and Wonderful West Virginia Water Festival here.