The 82nd annual Mountain State Forest Festival has been in full swing this past week and town is CRAZY. I would say the population of Elkins swells to six times the normal size. It was a very pretty festival with all the fall colors and pageantry. The foliage did not cooperating this year with its contribution of color. It has been too warm and wet for the leaves to have changed much. Momma Said, “Mother Nature has her own schedule for things.”
I remember as a kid coming to the festival. The Queen is crowned on Friday afternoon and the Grand Feature Parade is on Saturday. There were wood chopping competitions, fiddle and banjo contests, jousting and primitive camping with authentic dress and living conditions, plus all the majesty of the Royal Court. We would get there so early in the morning and stay all day. As a child I always thought the jousters were real knights on their big horses.
Sometimes the weather would cooperate and be a beautiful fall day and other years we would sit through sleet, rain, snow and cold. We didn’t care, that was one time we got to go to town. It was the highlight of our year. We would save all our coins so we could ride the carnival rides. At that I time it was ten cents a ride and now I hear it is $25 for ride tickets. Momma Said, “Inflation hits everywhere.”
I am not a crowd person, so it has been years since I went to the parade, but it is a nice infusion of cash for the city of Elkins. It is much needed revenue for the businesses and it spotlights our little town for a week of the year. It has continued for 82 years and I hope they have success for another 82.
- 8 slices bacon
- 1 1/2 lbs ground sirloin
- 1 medium sweet onion diced
- 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 15 oz can light red kidney beans drained
- 1 14 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 10 oz can Rotel Chili Fixins Tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp dark chili powder
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1 tsp lemon pepper
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano
- 3 cups shredded Pepper-Jack cheese divided
- 12 oz thin spaghetti
- pickled jalapeno slices, amount to taste
- sliced green onions for garnishing
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the bottom and sides of a 12-inch cast iron skillet with olive or vegetable oil. Set aside.
- In a separate large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain and crumble. Reserve 3 Tbsp drippings in skillet.
- Add the ground sirloin and diced onion to the bacon drippings. Cook over medium-high heat until no pink remains and the onion is softened.
- Lower the heat and add the Worcestershire sauce, beans, tomato sauce, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, lemon pepper and oregano. Mix well and leave on low until pasta is cooked.
- Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti per the package directions in salted water until al dente. Drain well.
- Add cooked spaghetti and crumbled bacon to the sauce reserving 2 Tbsp bacon for garnishing. Mix until ingredients are combined. and pasta is evenly coated with sauce,
- Pour half into the bottom of the cast iron skillet. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups cheese and arrange jalapeno slices on top. Repeat layers with spaghetti, jalapeno slices and remaining cheese.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted and golden.
- Serve immediately garnished with green onion and reserved bacon.
This dish may be baked in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish, if desired.