Spring ramp festivals in West Virginia are expected to boom

Ramps cook during Helvetia’s annual Ramp Dinner, one of many such events held throughout West Virginia.

BEAVER, W.Va. — Spring ramp festivals in West Virginia could see a jump in visitors in 2023, according to the editor of one of the state’s top guides to festivals and celebrations celebrating traditional food.

Dave Sibray, the editor of West Virginia Explorer Magazine, expects attendance at the festivals to increase due to the increasing population in the state, increasing tourism in the state and a decline in severe Covid infections.
A ramp bed thrives in the forest.A ramp bed thrives in the forest. (Photo courtesy of Bill Beatty)

“I’m predicting a boom in spring festivals of all kinds this year,” says Sibray, who has been promoting ramp festivals for the past decade through the online magazine, which reaches 10,000 readers a day.

“I think we’re going to see a dramatic increase in ramp fests and maple syrup festivals are looking good too.

Jennifer Smith, who collects information about the festivals for the magazine, says the 2022 hosts were thrilled to see attendance returning to pre-pandemic numbers.

“Everyone was excited to think of people gathering again,” Smith said. “During the pandemic, people have missed ramp festivals and the funding they brought to churches and organizations.”

A seasonal staple of Appalachian cuisine, rampen or rampion, a wild leek native to eastern North America, is among the first edible plants to appear in the mountains in spring.

Settlers would gather for ramp feeds, which later became traditional community events. Nowadays, ramp parties and festivals are often hosted by non-profit organizations as fundraisers. Churches and volunteer fire departments are common sponsors of large dinners.

Some ramp dinners have evolved into full-fledged festivals. The Feast of the Ramson in Richwood, West Virginia will celebrate its 83rd annual ramp festival in 2023.

Most ramp dinners in West Virginia occur in March, April, and May.

For more information on upcoming festivals or to find out about a ramp festival, visit West Virginia Ramp Dinners & Festivals.


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