FRENCH CREEK, W.Va. – The Mountain State’s unofficial weather prognosticating groundhog, French Creek Freddie, will be the star of the show Tuesday, Feb. 2, at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center in Upshur County.
Wildlife Center personnel will awaken West Virginia’s most famous rodent out of his winter hibernation to predict the severity of the remaining six weeks of winter. After making his forecast before an audience of hundreds of groundhog fans and reporters, he will be content to return to his warm bed.
“In addition to receiving what we hope will be a favorable forecast from Freddie, we are excited to welcome our visitors, including those who will travel quite a distance to visit the Wildlife Center on this special day,” said Tyler Evans, wildlife biologist at the Wildlife Center.
Anyone who can’t attend in person will be able to watch live streaming of Freddie’s prediction ceremony on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wildlifewv. High definition video will be made available later in the day on the West Virginia Department of Commerce website at www.wvcommerce.org.
Groundhog Day festivities, all free of charge, will begin at the amphitheater at approximately 9:30 a.m. Guests will be greeted by the French Creek Freddie costumed mascot. The band “Enny Corner,” which performs an original song dedicated to Groundhog Day, will provide entertainment. The headliner of the day, French Creek Freddie, will emerge from his den at 10 a.m.
The Wildlife Center also will host its fourth annual “Woodchuckin’ Contest” starting at 10:30 a.m. Guests can visit the gift shop for free hot chocolate and cookies. Activity sheets will be available for children to take home. Guests are also invited to tour the 325- acre facility at their leisure.
Approximately 25 species of wildlife can be viewed along a wheelchair-accessible, 1.25-mile interpretive trail that runs through a mature hardwood forest. Interpretive signs help visitors to learn more about each animal’s life history, biology and relationship with humans.
The State Wildlife Center is located in north-central West Virginia, 12 miles south of Buckhannon on State Route 20. From the north, take exit 99 off Interstate 79 and follow State Route 33 approximately 12 miles east to Buckhannon and turn south on State Route 20. Coming from the south, take exit 67 off Interstate 79 at Flatwoods and follow State Routes 19 and 4 approximately 30 miles north to Rock Cave and Route 20. From Rock Cave, follow State Route 20 north for 2 miles to the Wildlife Center.
For more information, call 304-924-6211 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or visit online at www.wvdnr.gov/wildlife/wildlifecenter.shtm.