May 20, 2012
When looking for something to do in the Ohio Valley, many of the activities involve individual communities that have their own festivals taking place throughout the year. Many of the Ohio Valley’s biggest festivals take place in the city of Wheeling, which seems to have activities for just about every season. Every year in early March at the Artisan Center during the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, the Celtic Festival is held, offering up traditional Celtic music and food. The summer brings many more festival’s to Wheeling’s Heritage Port area. During the final weekend in July the Italian Festival of the Upper Ohio Valley takes place offering one of the biggest and most popular events in the entire tri-state area. Street vendors offer just about every food imaginable: traditional Italian foods like the Sons of Italy’s sausage and vendors selling Italian Ice to festival friendly favorites like steak sandwiches, funnel cakes and lemon shake. A Bocci tournament, various live performers, wine tasting and bingo are just a few of the other things to do while there. August also offers two big music events at Heritage Port with the 12th Annual Heritage Music BluesFest, followed a few weeks later by the Annual Wheeling Wine and Jazz Festival, a newer, one day festival held at Heritage Port. In September the Sternwheel Festival lands at Heritage Port for three days of fun activities for people of all ages. The first weekend in October is when Oglebay Park has one of its most anticipated events of the year – Oglebayfest – which includes hundreds of crafters and vendors, exhibits, gourmet foods and even a sampling of German culture in the spirit of Oktoberfest. When looking for something to do in the Ohio Valley, many of the activities involve individual communities that have their own festivals taking place throughout the year. Many of the Ohio Valley’s biggest festivals take place in the city of Wheeling, seemingly the area’s hub of activity for every season. The first mayor event of the calendar year in the Friendly City is the Celtic Festival, held each march inside the Wheeling Artisan Center. Dancers and singers perform throughout the day while numerous booths offer celtic-themed gifts, heritage information and much more. Food and drink are also plentiful and the ‘pints of black’ flow from start to finish. While major activities are few and far between as the valley thaws out from the cold winter months, things really begin to heat up once the summer hits. June The month of June is loaded with outdoor events. In Bellaire, two big festivals come to the village each year. The All-American Days festival is being held the first weekend in June and features food vendors, children’s activities, historical reenactments and live performers. Steubenville has dualing festivals taken place and both will be well attended. The 26th Grecian Food Festival put on by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church while the Dean Martin Festival, honoring Steubenville’s native son and timeless crooner, takes place from the 14-16. Martin’s daughter, Deana Martin, was on hand to perform in 2011. Portions of Shadyside’s Central Avenue will be blocked off for a time as the residents celebrate the Loop Fest. Wheeling has a trio of events in June, starting on June 2 with the Wheeling Feeling Chili Cook-Off. Friday June 22 and Saturday, June 23, Heritage Port will host Bikes, Brews and Bar-B-Que. A custom motorcycle show, the event also features a rib cookoff along with food and beer vendors and live entertainment. Then on Sunday, June 24, the Ohio Valley Black Heritage Festival takes place. On June 16, Heritage Port will host the West Virginia Day Celebration, including a free performance by Landau Murphy. July There aren’t many options in July, but the few that are available are looked forward to throughout the year. The outdoor musical festival that is Jamboree in the Hills takes place the third weekend in July near Morristown, Ohio. Following that is Wheeling’s signature event, the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Festival. There are live performers, both contemporary and Italian-themed, as well as a bocce tournament, a pasta exhibit and a homemade wine competition. Plus, there are enough food and drink vendors lining the street to satisfy any culinary demand. The Sons of Italy’s sausage stand is a popular attraction along the midway. Also in July is St. Clairsville’s Plaza West Fest. August The final month of summer offers up two big musical festival in Wheeling. First up is the 12th annual Heritage Music BlueFest, followed by the 5th annual Wheeling Wine and Jazz Festival. The BluesFest continues to bring it nationally known acts from across the country. Included in this year’s three-day lineup is the first Wheeling appearance of the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. Across the river the Martins Ferry Fire Department puts on its annual Betty Zane Days at City Park. Live music, games and rides for kids and a multitude of food vendors occupy the park grounds for a few days of late-summer entertainment. In Columbiana, the Shaker Woods Festival takes place. September September is the month for boats at Heritage Port as Wheeling plays host to the Sternwheel Festival, as well as the Vintage Hydroplane Regata. The Barnesville Pumpkin Festival also takes place during September, filling the streets with the sights and smells of fall. The king pumpkin crowning is a looked forward to event and children can get their fill of carnival rides for the weekend. The Steam Thresher Festival is an annual tradition that takes place in New Athens every September while Smithfield offers up the second of two local Apple Festivals in the valley. Antiques in the Woods takes place in Columbiana. Along with antiques, festival goers can take in a tractor pull, live entertainment and a car show. Another edition to the September lineup is this year’s third edition of the Osiris Shriners’ Bash in the Hills October The Black Walnut Festival kicks off in Woodsfield at the Monroe County Fairgrounds. Cadiz also hosts its own version of Octoberfest. The annual Wellsburg Apple Fest takes place in nearby Brooke County. November and December Wheeling is also the place to be for Christmas and wintertime festivals, but it’s not the only one. Powhatan Point’s recently developed Christmas in the Village offers crafts, breakfast with Santa, games for kids and other goodies for those attending. November kicks off Wheeling’s Festival of Lights which lasts from before Thanksgiving until after the New Year. Downtown is lined with Christmas Lights, with pole lights helping to lead the way to Oglebay Park for its nationally renowned Festival of Lights. Two years ago ?Wheeling unveiled Winter Fest at Heritage Port, with vendors, musical performances and an skating rink next to WesBanco Arena. crafters and vendors, exhibits, gourmet foods and even a sampling of German culture in the spirit of Oktoberfest.