Pendleton County resident Mike Mallow can’t help but smile about the Treasure Mountain Festivals he’s attended since childhood, especially when it comes to the goodies served by local church members.
Sadly, many of the church ladies and their booths have passed with time.
But one treat still steals the show.
Mallow and others can’t wait to have another baked potato lovingly prepared by members of the local Lutheran Church. The fun starts tomorrow in Franklin.
Mallow, advertising manager for the Moorefield Examiner, is also plugged into social media and has been pleasantly surprised by how many folks – including people who’ve moved away – also eagerly await this annual opportunity to enjoy their favorite special spud.
Perhaps that’s not too surprising since as many as 20,000 sometimes attend the growing annual event which includes a parade, crafts, various contests and displays as well as a fort burning. Now in its 48th year, the festival runs through Sunday.
But that’s not the big draw.
“I’ve notices tons of chatter on Facebook and Twitter specifically for one thing: the Lutheran baked potato. I’ve seen mentions from people, specifically former residents of the county scattered to the wind, and all making the same intention known. They’re coming to the festival for a baked potato,” he said.
In fact, he’s even written a poem – Ode to the Lutheran Baked Potato – honoring this local culinary masterpiece.
And it also offers advice for folks who may be new to this delicacy.
“One of the last church stands, sticks to a game plan tried and true, undeterred by changes, is that of Martin Luther’s crew.
Get it with some butter, some homemade chili, if you please, pepper it green with chives, make orange with liquid cheese.
Remember the sour cream, amazing with just a dollop, any way you want it, just flush it down with some pop.”
There’s more involved than just tasty carbohydrates.
“For me, and I think a lot of others, is the really deep nostalgia we feel towards the festival, especially because of the way so many other things have changed in our lives. But of all the transitions the festival has made over the years, the potato has stayed the same. It takes us back as we mover forward.”
Folks have also responded to posts on his Pendleton County Facebook page, especially one featuring a colorful photo of a loaded potato that’s topped off with cheese, chili and sour cream.
“I can’t stand to look at this picture anymore, it’s such a tease,” said Facebook poster Cassie Ann Boner.
In another post, Kristy Beauchesne couldn’t believe she’d missed this tempting treat.
“Thanks to Mike’s journalistic brilliance and informative reporting, I now see that there is something amazing I’ve been missing in all of my festival days. Now I’m counting dow the hours until I can right this terrible wrong.”