Fasnacht Celebration Urges Old Man Winter to Leave

Mar 5, 2014

The little town of Helvetia, W.Va., tried its best to frighten away Old Man Winter at its Fasnacht festival, which takes place every year on the last Saturday before Lent.

An effigy of Old Man Winter is burned every year during the Fasnacht Celebration in Helvetia, W.Va.
Credit Traveling 219 / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Hundreds of people thronged the streets of the remote Swiss community in Randolph County, many of them squeezing into the community hall for the square dance.

People this year had large, papier-mâché masks that resembled long nosed-monsters, Chinese dragons, and druid-like trees.

But before the party, cooks and volunteers were busy helping to prepare the Swiss feast in the Hütte restaurant, which included sausage, spiced sauerkraut, brat wurst, green beans, parsley potatoes, homemade applesauce, and peach cobbler.

Three years after one of the most important matriarchs of Helvetia, Eleanor Mailloux, founder of the Hutte, passed away, the question many people are asking is: how will the traditions change without her?

Editor's Note: Traveling 219 is a production of Allegheny Mountain Radio with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the West Virginia Humanities Council, and AmeriCorps VISTA.