Bites, Beers and Balloons

Savor October in Mountaineer Country

Venture off the beaten path of foodie tours and sink your teeth into the taste of Appalachia! October is hosting a number of ways to devour your way through Mountaineer Country.

Your lip smacking adventure starts with West Virginia’s Statewide Farm to Table Dinner on Oct. 3 at the Erickson Alumni Center on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown. This celebration includes Appalachian recipes with home-cooked local meat and produce, accompanied by beer and wine cultivated in the Mountain State. A side dish of bluegrass is served by local band 18 Strings. The bonus: WVU’s homecoming is October 4-6, so there is plenty going on!

The culinary feast continues on Oct. 6 with a colorful show of autumn leaves and decadent evening feast at the West Virginia Botanic Garden in Morgantown. Award-winning chef Anne Hart of Provence Market Cafe in Bridgeport, W.Va. prepares an intimate dinner that promises to be unforgettable. Anne was recently named one of the 50 top women chefs in USA Today!

Travel to Reedsville, just 12 miles from Morgantown for the cozy monthly dinner at Modern Homestead. Owners Lucas Tatham, a West Virginia native, and Trellis Smith, a transplant from New Orleans, prepare meals based on new and classic cookbooks sold in their gift shop. The Oct. 12 menu features slow braised tomato based sauce with beef, pork and lamb ragu served over pasta, followed by a pear cake with whipped cream.

Plan on staying the night at the 1930s guest house (newly renovated and comfortably furnished by Tatham and Smith as well) because Oct. 13 is the WV Chestnut Festival, honoring the great American chestnut trees that once held a prominent position in the eastern hardwood forests. The smell of roasting chestnuts waft through the quaint town of Rowlesburg, host of the celebration.

Roasted chestnuts at street vendor

The painted mountains of autumn that surround Mountaineer Country are rivaled on Oct. 24-27 with the return of hot air balloons during the University Toyota Balloons Over Morgantown. Five spectacular launches are planned over the course of the weekend, beginning with “Night Glow” on Thursday evening at Morgantown Mall. The magnificent colors of the balloons are illuminated after dark and make a sensational display. The remaining morning and evening mass ascensions will take place at the Morgantown Municipal Airport. All events are weather permitting.

Hot air balloons

Once the balloons have taken to the skies, there are beer tastings on the horizon. The first, Oct. 25, is Drafts on Deckers, an evening of craft beer sampling in the renovated basement of Morgantown Brewing Company. It’s all for a good cause, proceeds benefit Friends of Deckers Creek, a dedicated group of individuals working to restore the 64-mile watershed that meanders through two counties and draws kayakers, rock climbers and wildlife.

The following day, High Ground Brewing in Terra Alta, W.Va. marks Oktoberfest with Bar-B-Qed Beast in the beer garden. A full German menu, three German style beers on tap, including a Kölsch, a Märzen and a Hefeweizen . . . and, of course, an Oompah Band. More information at

Whether you nibble, chew or ravage your way through Mountaineer Country, the accommodations are plentiful, ranging from rustic cabins–complete with hot tub and breakfast basket–to boutique hotels situated in the heart of downtown Morgantown. Discounted rates are available at

Mountaineer Country is centrally located in the mid-Atlantic, just 2-1/2 hours from the Metro DC market or a short flight on Southern Airways from Baltimore Washington International (BWI) or Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) to Morgantown Municipal Airport (MGW).  Daily flights from Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) arrive in North Central West Virginia Airport (CKB).

For help planning your weekend getaway, contact the Greater Morgantown Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-458-7373 or visit

Interested in attending more than one event this weekend? Stay overnight at one of the many hotels and lodgings in Morgantown. Click to reserve your stay.