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Earl Ray Tomblin, Governor
Frank Jezioro, Director

News Release: January 27, 2014

Facebook: WV Commerce - State Parks

Hoy Murphy, Public Information Officer (304) 957-9365 hoy.r.murphy@wv.gov


Robert Silvester, District 3 Game Biologist 304-924-6211 Rob.A.Silvester@wv.gov

Spend Groundhog Day with French Creek Freddie at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center Feb. 2, 2014 36th Anniversary Celebration Planned

FRENCH CREEK, W.Va. - For the 36th year, French Creek Freddie, the state's official weather prognosticating groundhog, will be the star of the show Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, at the West Virginia Wildlife Center at French Creek in Upshur County. Each Groundhog Day, Wildlife Center staff awakens the grumpy rodent and brings him out of his winter hibernation hole to allow him to look for his shadow and predict the severity of the remaining six weeks of winter.

He's usually right, but after making his forecast before an audience of hundreds of groundhog fans, including news media from around the state, he is more than happy to return to the warmth of his bed.

"Everyone is invited to join in the fun of Groundhog Day at the Wildlife Center and take a walking tour of the native wildlife on display," said Rob Silvester, District 3 wildlife biologist. "Festivities begin in the amphitheater at 9:30 a.m. with special guest Appalachian storytellers "Granny Sue" and Judi Tarowsky. Wake up time for Freddie is 10 a.m. We will have our second annual Woodchuckin' Contest starting at 10:30 a.m. A number of exhibitors will be in the Gift Shop including a potter, The Sheepherders Association and a blacksmith. Guests can enjoy hot chocolate and cookies. We'll have activity sheets for the kids to take home. Since Groundhog Day falls on a Sunday this year, it's a perfect time to bring out the whole family."

The West Virginia Wildlife Center is a modern zoological facility displaying native and introduced wildlife. Operated by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section, the Wildlife Center is dedicated to presenting visitors a realistic and factual understanding of West Virginia's wildlife.

Woodland wildlife can be viewed along a wheelchair-accessible, 1.25-mile-long interpretive trail through a mature hardwood forest. Species at the facility include whitetail deer, black bear, wild turkey, and formerly native species that no longer live in the state, including elk, bison and mountain lions. The spacious enclosures allow the animals to interact with their environment and exhibit more natural behavior patterns. Interpretive signs help visitors learn more about each animal's life history, biology and its relationship with humans.

The West Virginia Wildlife Center is located in Upshur County 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 east approximately 12 miles 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 north approximately 30 miles to Rock Cave. Follow State Route 20 North for 2 miles to the center. Visiting the Wildlife Center is a convenient side trip for travelers on I-79.

Call 304-924-6211 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or visit online at www.wvdnr.gov/wildlife/wildlifecenter.shtm.

About the Appalachian Storytellers
"Granny Sue"
"Granny Sue's" storytelling takes audiences back to a time when stories were part of the fabric of every day, when parents told children tales from their past and children shared daily adventures. Her stories, be they mountain tall tales, world folktales, poignant family stories, ghostly tales or Appalachian ballads, remind people of who they are and from where they came, sharing values and moral lessons, and giving a blueprint for the future.

Susanna "Granny Sue" Holstein's repertoire includes Appalachian programs, world folktales, family stories, ghost tales and participation stories. She is a graduate of West Virginia State College and holds a MLISs degree from the University of South Carolina. West Virginia State Liaison to the National Storytelling Network and member of the WV Storytelling Guild and several regional storytelling and writing organizations, Holstein is also a published writer. She maintains an active online journal, Granny Sue's News and Reviews, and writes columns for two regional publications, Two-Lane Livin' and the Jackson View and maintains several blogs.

Judi Young Tarowsky
Judi Young Tarowsky graduated from West Virginia University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and began her career with The Intelligencer in Wheeling, eventually working for The Herald-Star in Steubenville, Ohio and The Wheeling News-Register. She received the Graduate Certificate in Storytelling from the University of North Texas School Of Information Sciences. She has written articles for "Firehouse" magazine, "Gun World," and "Pittsburgh Magazine."

Tarowsky was an adjunct instructor at West Liberty State University in West Liberty, W.Va, where she taught public relations writing and public speaking.

Her credits include winning "The Golden Shovel" as the first-place winner in the inaugural Annual Strand Theatre Story Telling Festival Adult Amateur Liars Contest in 2006, and winning "The Silver Shovel" as second-place winner in 2007. Her work appears in the digital web concert, "Spinning Yarns Storytelling Concert," www.courses.unt.edu/efiga/SpinningYarns/index.htm presented by UNT.

Tarowsky writes and performs tall tales, but she also presents original family recollection stories, historical pieces and fiction. Her work includes stories for both children and adults.


Photos provided by the performers: Susanna “Granny Sue” Holstein, Judi Young Tarowsky 
Photo of French Creek Freddie provided by West Virginia Department of Commerce

Photos provided by the performers: Susanna “Granny Sue” Holstein, Judi Young Tarowsky 
Photo of French Creek Freddie provided by West Virginia Department of Commerce
Photos provided by the performers: Susanna “Granny Sue” Holstein, Judi Young Tarowsky 
Photo of French Creek Freddie provided by West Virginia Department of Commerce

Photos provided by the performers: Susanna "Granny Sue" Holstein, Judi Young Tarowsky Photo of French Creek Freddie provided by West Virginia Department of Commerce