W.Va. festival is the country cousin to Mardi Gras
The fright-fest doesn't always work: On Sunday morning, frost was still thick on the car windows and the snow lay frozen on the ground.
Helvetians say the magic takes time. But no one seemed to mind. Dozens slept deeply on the floor of the Star Band Hall, while the cooks at The Hutte restaurant whipped up a recovery brunch.
Fasnacht (pronounced FOSS-knocked) is also the name of a doughnut served on Fat Tuesday, a traditional sweet treat before Ash Wednesday. It's a tradition that European immigrant Catholics who settled Helvetia in 1869 initially celebrated privately in their homes, because most of their neighbors were Protestants.
Even those small celebrations died out for a while, but the practice was revived and expanded in the 1960s.
In the Helvetia Community Hall, dancers and revelers packed the high-ceilinged building wall to wall, leaving barely enough room to wriggle from the stage to the door. Every table in The Hutte was packed even at 8 p.m.
But Williams says the town always welcomes more.
"Make a mask or bring a mask," he said. "Be ready to come and have a good time."
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