According to David Sibray, publisher of West Virginia Explorer, more than 35,000 visitors are visiting the guide annually and many hosts of ramp dinners are enjoying increased attendance.
"I spoke with two organizers today who thanked us profusely for creating and maintaining the guide," Sibray said.
"The pastor at one church near Beverly said they had guests from as far away as Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and a fire department at Buffalo said attendance had doubled last year," he said.
The hunger for tradition may be a driving force behind the growing popularity of ramp dinners and festivals, he said.
"People are searching for something these days that connects them with something good," Sibray said, "and I think the tradition of ramp dinners combined with the good they do local organizations has a lot to do with their popularity nowadays.
After a long winter, settlers in West Virginia hungrily welcomed the appearance of the wild leek or ramp, one of the first edible plants to ripen in the Appalachian forests in spring. The ramp became the focus for a tradition of community feasts — a tradition that lingers in rural Appalachia.
Beginning in April and continuing through May, scores of community ramp dinners and full-scale festivals are hosted throughout the state. Many are small affairs that welcome fewer than a hundred guests. Others feed more than 1,000 in the course of an afternoon.
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