WV Wildlife: Groundhog Day with French Creek Freddie!
FRENCH CREEK, WV (WCHS/WVAH) —
You might have called the trip up--foretelling.
By the time we completed the hour and 45-minute trip to the West Virginia State Wildlife Center in Upshur County, it was a lowly 11 degrees with 3 inches of fresh snow on the ground!
These harsh conditions weren't enough to keep many people away from their favorite Groundhog, though--French Creek Freddie!
Despite the snowy roads, nearly 100 people showed up for the 41st edition of French Creek Freddie's emergence!
Groundhog Day can be traced back to its German Roots--and although Pennsylvania may have the most history with it, their neighbors to the south in West Virginia have a Groundhog that's growing in popularity.
"Are you ready for French Creek Freddie!?" That's what was sung by the band, Enny Corner--comprised of West Virginian's who have made songs just for Freddie. They have been singing at this event for 5 years now.
Harry Beall, who came up with the song for Enny Corner, says this event is always fun.
"One of the most enjoyable, because everyone is really great here--and Freddie's such a beloved icon that coming here, you can't go wrong", said Beall.
As for Freddie's prediction--it was almost comical at how fast the weather changed right before he emerged from his burrow. It was mostly cloudy all morning with snow showers--but then out of nowhere, the sun peeked through!
Normally, this would be a welcome sight--but not on Groundhog Day. And as you would expect, this sun did cast a shadow--and made Freddie go into his corner, indicating his prediction: 6 more weeks of winter weather!
Unfortunately, for people that want to see an early spring, his track record is pretty good according to WV DNR Wildlife Biologist, Tyler Evans--who works at the Wildlife Center.
"He's been pretty accurate--I'd put it upwards of 70%", said Evans.
This day is more than just a meteorological prediction, though--it's an event. The kids especially enjoy it--and with music, hot chocolate and cookies in the gift shop, it's a good way to help your cabin fever some.
Also at this year's event, Mrs. West Virginia International 2018--Tauletha Chaffin--was there to bring awareness to the Go Red Campaign, which was created by the American Heart Association to raise awareness on how cardiovascular disease impacts women.
"80% of those heart issues can be avoided", explained Chaffin.
Even Freddie went red to raise awareness for this good cause!
"Freddie's legend is continuing to grow every year. We are 41 years in now, and it's really starting to show. Even on an 11-degree day, you're getting people in from Utah, you're getting people in from down South", said Evans.
Our West Virginia DNR takes pride in being part of this event every year and having a nice variety of animals that you can enjoy at the WV Wildlife Center.
As for the West Virginia and Pennsylvania Groundhog Rivalry? It's there--but probably not as fierce as some others.
"Nothing is as bitter as the Backyard Brawl", Evans said while laughing.