Celebrate the Harvest and Our Community
It was 1979 in Martinsburg, West Virginia, Mr. Charles Thornton, Jr. who at the time, was manager of WEPM Radio Station, was trying to think of a community activity for everyone. Gas prices were high and the economy was falling. He did some research and found there were Apple Carnivals that dated back to 1896, 1909, and 1935 held in Downtown Martinsburg, West Virginia celebrating the harvesting of the apples. They were interrupted by WWI, WWII, and the depression. Mr. Thornton contacted local businesses and social organizations asking for volunteers to help revive the Apple Harvest Festival. Volunteers met with Mr. Thornton and The Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival Committee was formed.
By-Laws of the MSAHF, Inc. are dated October 25, 1979. In the By-Laws, Article I, Section 3 it states: "The fundamental purpose of said corporation shall be to promote the apple industry in the state of West Virginia, and specifically in Berkeley County, West Virginia, and associated and related industries, and the celebration of the harvest of the apples throughout the Mountain State and through efforts to generally promote the welfare in community betterment by various acts as deemed appropriate by said corporation in and for the community, in the city of Martinsburg, the county of Berkeley, and the state of West Virginia. And further, to engage in any acts for which a corporation may be organized, including the possession of real estate and all acts connected therewith, as may be organized under the laws for such a non-profit corporation, in the state of West Virginia, and under the Code of the State of West Virginia; and to do any lawful acts that will be deemed in the best interests of the purposes of this corporation." In Article I, Section 4, it states: "The objectives of this organization shall include by not be limited to the followings: The sponsoring and promotion of an annual festival to celebrate the apple harvest in West Virginia, and particularly in the Eastern Panhandle of the State of West Virginia."
The festival is always held the third weekend in October. The name Queen Pomona was chosen for the Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival Queen because Pomona was the uniquely Roman goddess of fruit trees and orchards. Pomona watches over and protects fruit trees and cares for the cultivation, and Pomona comes from the Latin word pomum, "fruit" specifically orchard fruit.