Travel magazine greets explosion of interest in W.Va. ramp festivals

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Travel magazine greets explosion of interest in W.Va. ramp festivals
A plate of ramps awaits a diner in West Virginia, where the plant is a spring delicacy. (Photo: Julie McGivern Vincent)

Interest in West Virginia ramp festivals has increased dramatically over the last year, and editors at West Virginia Explorer Magazine are changing practices to deal with an unparalleled onslaught of inquiries.

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The online guide to West Virginia travel has published a each March 1 for the last six years as part of its far-ranging coverage, but staff will begin updating and advertising the guide this weekend.

A mess of ramps cooks during the annual ramp dinner at Helvetia, one of many held across West Virginia.

"Ramp season doesn't get going until April, but folks are looking for information now, and sponsors are calling continuously to update information," Sibray said.

"We'll also have more events listed this year, and since January 1 more than 30,000 visitors have visited our pages about ramps and other springtime events."

Sibray said editors are unsure why the interest in ramp dinners has increased so dramatically, though it could result from the magazine's increasing popularity in metropolitan Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas.

"I can't tell whether the ramp dinners have become more popular or whether we've become more popular as a source of information about West Virginia, which we certainly have," he said.

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"In any case, it's working out for ramp dinners and other events, and I like promoting the dinners because they support many non-profit efforts while bolstering travel to the state."

Though in publication for 20 years, the magazine over the last five years has significantly changed its approach to promoting West Virginia and has gathered a vast audience of more than two million annual readers.

Jamie Riddle and Anne Johnson tried their hands at blending Japanese and Appalachian cuisine in "ramp sushi."

Sibray said that while some magazine visitors have remarked on the potential impact of the annual ramp harvest, he's observed that harvesters are careful about sustaining their crops.

"These folks have been harvesting ramps for years, and I'm sure they know what they're doing. They're not about to over-harvest one of their patches and spoil upcoming harvests," he said.

Listings in the guide for non-profit organizations are free, and submissions may be made by calling 304-575-7390 or by emailing editor@wvexplorer.com.

For-profit businesses that would like to advertise to the ramp audience should call 804-814-9508 or email whitney@wvexplorer.com

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