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Cedar Lakes Conference Center


The Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Jackson County originated in a 1949 act of the state legislature authorizing the development of a leadership training facility for students. The legislation was the result of a cooperative effort by the state associations of the Future Farmers of America and Future Homemakers of America with the vocational division of the State Board of Education.

Many sites were proposed, studied, and visited before the Jackson County site was approved. On March 15, 1950, 231 acres of land known as the Easter Farm was deeded to the State Board of Education by Oliver Kessel, a prominent Ripley citizen, and work began. The camp officially opened January 7, 1955, but was not named until 1957. The name Cedar Lakes was chosen from more than 100 names, due to the site’s predominant physical features, two beautiful lakes and an abundance of native cedar trees.

Cedar Lakes has grown into an impressive facility with 30 buildings on 450 acres, cottages, classrooms, a crafts center, cafeteria, chapel, superintendent’s house, and a modern motel-style lodge. Softball, swimming, tennis, fishing, hiking, miniature golf, and canoeing are also offered. An estimated 500,000 people visit Cedar Lakes each year. Since 1963, Cedar Lakes has been home to the Mountain State Art & Craft Fair, West Virginia’s largest outdoor craft event. On July 1, 2016, control of the conference center was transferred to the state Department of Agriculture; it continues to promote training of FFAFHA youth leaders.

Written by Deborah J. Sonis


  1. Jackson, Debby Sonis. Building Cedar Lakes. Goldenseal, (Fall 1990).