Late in the Great Depression, rural West Virginia and Preston County found economic recovery slow and tedious. Local farmers grew buckwheat, although mainly for animal feed, as an “insurance crop” because of its short growing season and good quality; it was thought that perhaps this grain might spur agricultural economic growth. For this reason and for its uniqueness, buckwheat was chosen as the focus for an end-of-harvest homecoming when farmers could relax, have fun, and compete – thus blossomed the Preston County Buckwheat Festival!
The first Buckwheat Festival was held October 13 -15, 1938 and included an all-day horse trading and a farmer’s auction. Early festival activities were located on the east lawn of the courthouse, and attendees enjoyed sack races, hog calling for women, husband calling, nail driving for women, eating contests, tugs of war, and rolling pin throwing. As the festival continued, buckwheat and other agricultural crops were exhibited, a king and queen were selected, and a banquet of buckwheat cakes and sausage were served.
Now, the Preston County Buckwheat Festival is held in Kingwood each year, featuring livestock shows, local artisan vendors, carnival rides, project exhibits, parades and of course, buckwheat cakes and sausage! The event is held the last Thursday of every September and is enjoyed by people of all ages, some traveling across the nation to attend.
Price Street, Kingwood, W.Va. 26537