The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Ramp Festivals

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Ramp feeds, ramp dinners, and all-out ramp festivals are hosted throughout the central mountain region of West Virginia in spring. The ramp, or wild leek, is among the first edible plants to appear in the Appalachian forests after winter, and its bulb and dark-green shoots were early incorporated into the diet of settlers. The plant is sauteed and eaten as a green or added to other traditional recipies, often accompanying eggs or potatoes. It has also been elevated to the realm of haute cuisine and may appear seasonally on the dinner menu at many gourmet restaurants. Eaten in excess, the ramp may imbue those who have eaten them with a lingering odor. As a result, the plant was also believed to possess restorative powers and its juice has been used as a springs tonic. A light, sweet wine may also be made from the ramp. The plant is also known as the "ransom" or "ram's horn." Churches and community centers in West Virginia routinely sponsor ramp dinners. In the 1950s, ramp festivals became popular attractions in Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia -- wherever the plant grows in abundance.

The West Virginia Ramp Festival

The West Virginia Ramp Festival, or the "Feast of the Ransom," at Richwood, WV, in Nicholas County is among the world's best known celebrations of the ramp. Each year in mid-April townsfolk gather to prepare a feast of ramps served with ham, bacon, brown beans, fried potatoes, and cornbread. Arts and crafts exhibits and live music are also part of the celebration. For more information, contact the Richwood Area Chamber of Commerce at 304-846-6790.

Other Ramp Festivals

Well known ramp festivals in West Virginia also include the Helvetia Ramp Supper at Helvetia, WV, in Randolph County Phone: 304-924-5018