Philly is known for its cheesesteak sandwiches. Buffalo has its chicken wings and many are familiar with Chicago-style pizza. Folks around Nicholas County will argue that Richwood's ramps belong on that list of locales famous for their own cuisines.
Located in the heart of ramp country on the banks of the Cherry River adjacent to the Monongahela National Forest, Richwood is the self-proclaimed "Ramp Capital of the World." The town of 2,000 is the headquarters of the NRA — National Ramp Association.
The community has been hosting the Feast of the Ramson for 75 years. The spring festival features live entertainment, cloggers, arts and crafts and, of course, the annual ramp dinner. More than 20 community volunteers gather at the local school cafeteria to prepare and serve 1,000 meals of ramps, ham, bacon, fried potatoes, brown beans and cornbread washed down with sassafras tea.
There's nothing quite like it, according to the NRA's website.
Nancy Leffingwell of the Richwood Chamber of Commerce says the event has a rich tradition that's still growing.
"From its humble beginnings in a camp, it has grown to serving over 1,000 ramp dinners, holding a huge craft show and hosting some great entertainment for feast goers to enjoy," she said. "It takes well over 100 volunteers and many hours of labor cleaning the ramps, but it's a community endeavor that keeps people coming back year after year. It is Richwood's longest running event and is an important asset to our community."
Entries such as pickled, sautéed and grilled ramps may be found in the recipe contest with ramp soup, ramp salsa, ramp jelly and ramp quiche. The Ramp Run attracts the region's fitness enthusiasts.
Ramps are the Appalachian woodland's "first green things to show their heads in spring" after a long winter. Also known as wild leeks, the pungent "little stinkers" taste somewhat like an onion with a strong odor.
A ramp is a member of the lily family with edible leaves and roots of small white bulbs with a hint of rusty red. Found in the rich woods of upper elevations, the plants grow about a foot tall and resemble scallions.
Considered a gourmet by several New York restaurants, some ramp fans are concerned that the plant is becoming too scarce.