May 20, 2012
THE OHIO Valley is rife with entertainment opportunities for local residents and for those traveling here regionally. When people think of entertainment, the first thing comes to mind is music. And in the Ohio Valley, nothing says music like the Superbowl of Country Music, Jamboree In The Hills. Held the third week of July every year, Jamboree In The Hills is a four-day outdoor music extravaganza. National artists make the pilgrimage here every summer, as well as breakthrough local acts like the Joe Zelek Band and Katie Orlofske, who get a chance to cut their performing teeth in front of a massive audience. This year’s lineup boasts major artists like: Jason Aldean, Jamey Johnson, Rascal Flatts and Lynyrd Skynyrd along with fan favorite and perennial Jamboree performer Neal McCoy. Music has also returned to the Capitol Theater in Wheeling, formerly the Capitol Music Hall. While Jamboree USA is no longer held on Saturday nights, the Capitol still provides a diverse array of performances. On the docket are performances from the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, the oldest cultural organization in West Virginia. The Capitol has also taken up the task of providing area residents access to broadway style performances and musicals including: My Fair Lady, Cats, Lord of the Dance and Monty Python’s Spamalot. The Capitol is also bringing back nationally-known comedy acts as Ralphie May makes his Wheeling debut in June. The original Jamboree USA show is now known by the Wheeling Jamboree and is located in the Strand Theater in nearby Moundsville. WesBanco Arena on occasion will also host musical concerts and is also home to traveling children’s shows, both on and off the ice. The Ohio Valley is also a hotbed for local and regional musical acts and more locales are stepping to the forefront to provide outlets for artists to play to the crowd. One such location is the Steel Mill Bar and Grille in Martins Ferry. The Steel Mill, along with Nicolozakes Cafe in Fairpoint, has positioned itself as a major player in the local hard rock scene. Nationally-known rock and country acts have also played at the Steel Mill. Generation’s Pub plus also play host to national artists. The city of St. Clairsville has its summer concert series near the recreation center and with the edition of its new amphitheater, is sure to further the musical offerings available in St. Clairsville. Wheeling routinely has music acts outdoors at its amphitheater and also hosts free movie nights. Waterfront Wednesdays is an opportunity for area residents to catch a free musical show while taking in the backdrop of the Ohio River. Wheeling Island Casino Hotel and Racetrack, along with Mountaineer’s The Harv have hosted major musical acts along with live boxing and kickboxing fight cards. A recent change in West Virginia allowing mixed martial arts bouts has opened up a new avenue for fighting events. Nearby in Washington, Pa., The Meadows Racetrack and Casino hosts the Meadows Concert Series along with other events. And speaking of the tracks, whether you prefer horse racing, greyhound racing or harness racing, between The Meadows, Mountaineer and Wheeling Island, the local tracks have you covered. The Chester Volunteer Fire Department Fall Bash is being held at The Harv on Sept. 15. The James Carnes Center near St. Clairsville also plays host to boxing and mixed-martial arts events along with the recently formed Ohio Valley Roller Girls’ derby events. Movie goers have a plethora of options to choose from. Marquee Cinemas can be found at The Highlands while Carmike Cinemas in St. Clairsville is right across the river. Both offer stadium seating. Carmike recently unveiled it’s ‘Big D’ theater, one of only a few in the United States. It boasts larger seats, a giant, crystal clear screen and incredible sound for your viewing pleasure. There are still two operational drive-in theaters locally, one in Glen Dale and the other the Winter Drive-In in Wintersville. For a more refined movie-going experience, the Towngate Cinema offers independent films and critically acclaimed pictures that don’t always make it to the other theaters in the area. Other theater options include the Living Word Outdoor Drama, a performance depicting the life of Jesus Christ in Cambridge that takes place on an 400-foot panoramic stage. Also in Cambridge, the Pritchard Laughlin Civic Center hosts musical and theatrical acts. For a more animal-based experience, Dickinson Cattle Ranch in Barnesville offers tours of a functional ranch while the Faith Ranch in Jewett is Eastern Ohio’s Christian camp and riding experience. Judging by the attendance, bingo is still a major player in evening entertainment in the area, with games found in nearly every town. One of the larger bingo events is held in Weirton, Serbian Bingo. There are also recreation-style entertainment options like mini golf. Locations such as All Fore Fun in St. Clairsville and offer 18 holes to master your putting game.