The 13th annual West Virginia Chestnut Festival was held on Sunday, October 10 in Rowlesburg, WV. Traditions of this festival include the annual crowning of two individuals as Mr. and Mrs. Chestnut, based on their valued contributions to the broad areas of the American chestnut heritage and tradition. Jeff and Erica Kochenderfer were crowned 2021 Mr. and Mrs. Chestnut. Jeff serves as the north zone silviculturist on the Monongahela National Forest, and current secretary of the WV-TACF Chapter. Erica has taught English for 21 years, and together they have one daughter named Evelyn.
Speakers for the festival included James Madison University’s Heather Griscom, TACF’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Science Coordinator Tom Saielli, and WV-TACF Chapter President Mark Double. Heather presented on “Chestnut Introduction Efforts in Forested Ecosystems,” and Tom joined virtually to discuss “Long-Term Phenotyping Aids in Updating Breeding Programs.” Mark Double was the event’s dinner speaker, taking this opportunity to talk about Rainelle United Methodist Church, the largest building in the U.S. to be constructed entirely of American chestnut wood.
In addition to presentations, the festival featured hot roasted chestnuts, chestnut seedlings, and hand-crafted items made of American chestnut available for purchase. Thanks to all those who made this year’s West Virginia Chestnut Festival a success!