Fasnacht in Helvetia, WV (last sat. before lent)
Fasnacht is an old Swiss ritual that is observed every year to chase away winter and to welcome spring. It is celebrated the Saturday before Ash Wednesday in February (sometimes early March), with a Swiss feast and foot-tapping Appalachian music.
Fasnacht in Helvetia, WV "costumes"
The highlight of the festival is a masked ball. Many of the costumes are scary, intended to drive old-man winter away, while others are representative of spring, rebirth, and new growth. Masks are hand-made by the wearer, usually of paper mache', although there are occasionally carved wooden masks or ones made of felted wool. The goal is to win a coveted Swiss flag awarded to the best.
parade leads to the dance. Here participants gather in front of Rogers McAvoy's house before joining the parade.