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Art, music and more planned at Wheeling Culture Fest, June 16-17


Life Editor
Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — Wheeling Heritage Port will be abuzz with arts and cultural offerings Friday and Saturday for the 2017 Arts and Culture Fest.

Events include but are not limited to hands-on art projects and free classes, games from around the world, diverse musical acts, culinary demonstrations, random acts of kindness, storytelling and more. The festival is hosted by the Wheeling Arts and Cultural Commission and the YWCA Wheeling.

Twenty-two artists will set up their wares and creations under tents along Water Street during the festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. both days. The art ranges from watercolors to jewelry to sculptures to prints to pottery.

Food vendors will provide gastric “entertainment,” and craft beer “artists” will have special brews for sale.

All of the performances at the festival are free, as is participation in the activities.

Photo Provided Reggie Watkins, third from left, performs on the trombone with the Steeltown Horns, which will headline the 2017 Wheeling Arts and Culture Fest at Wheeling Heritage Port Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The free concert caps two days of continuous live musical entertainment from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The musical headliner on Saturday is the Steeltown Horns with Reggie Watkins, a Wheeling native who has toured the world with Jason Mraz and other national acts and recently released his third studio album, “Avid Admirer — The Jimmy Knepper Project.” The album pays tribute to trombone great Jimmy Knepper, with Watkins playing eight of Knepper’s original compositions on the late musician’s Bach Stradivarius 36 trombone.

Through a Wheeling connection two years ago, Watkins received the trombone and a collection of other Knepper horns from Knepper’s daughter, Robin Mahonen, half of the Uncle Eddie and Robin musical duo formerly of Wheeling. Watkins’ and Mahonen’s mothers knew each other from church, and Mahonen knew her father wanted his horns to go to a musician. The gift inspired Watkins, already a huge fan of Knepper, to immortalize the gift and his admiration of Knepper by recording the album.

The music lineup also features regional and local acts, including Ezra John, Joshua Lee, Mahajibee Blues, Soup Camel, Bill Gorby and The Musical Mercenaries, Mr. Fancy Pants, Chelsey Keding and Steel Casa. Reggae act The Flow Band and Brazilian drum group Timbaleeze also are on the schedule.

“This is one of the most highly anticipated events at the waterfront. I look forward to it every year” said Lori Jones, executive director of YWCA Wheeling.

Organizers said the festival has something for the entire family.

“This year we have more events for the whole family than any previous year. We have an origami artist that will be making art on Friday for the public, a decorated chair auction to benefit the Children’s Museum of the Ohio Valley on Saturday, rock painting both days for #kindnessrocks, New York Pop Artist Michael Albert creating collages, international touring musician Reggie Watkins, and so many opportunities to make art for free,” said Erika Donaghy, festival coordinator and former Wheeling Arts Commission chairman.

“We are privileged to be able to have this all happen in our community, and it’s important to our city and its citizens to have these types of programming,” she added.

The festival also hosts poetry readings, culinary demonstrations and public participation art, including a giant white board on which everyone is invited to draw.

The Around the World Carnival offers art and musical instruments from around the world, which organizers promise is a fun learning experience for kids and adult alike. Festival-goers are encouraged to stop by the genealogy tent to have their names translated and look up their family crests.

In addition, the YWCA WIND Program’s “Art with Heart” will make its debut this year. WIND stands for Women Inspired in New Directions and is a non-treatment recovery home located at the YW. In partnership with Mission West Virginia and the YWCA WIND Program, female inmate artists throughout West Virginia are creating and donating art to raise scholarship money for youth who experience foster care or have a parent incarcerated for a year or more of their childhood. The art being sold is an opportunity for inmates to give back to the community in a way that benefits children and provides hope for an end to the poverty cycle.

Premier sponsors include Wesbanco and The Schenk Foundation. Supporting sponsors include Jackson Hewitt, the Wheeling Ohio County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wheeling Heritage, United Electric and the Ohio County Commission. Patron sponsors include Oglebay Institute, the WALS Foundation, Century Equity, Wheeling Symphony, Comcast, Staley Communications, the City of Wheeling Human Rights Commission, Wheeling Kiwanis, Wheeling Rotary, Ziegenfelders and Lamar. Additional friends of the festival include the Children’s Museum, Ohio County Public Library, RCK Group LLC, WKKX, PJ’s Pizza and River City.

For more information about the Wheeling Arts and Culture Fest, visit



All day, both days:

A child participates in the bean bag toss — a Japanese game — at the Around the World Carnival.

Artist Tents

Around the World Carnival — Seven games from other countries

Genealogy Tent — Family crests, name translations and more

Literary Tent — Publications from local authors

Musical Instruments From Around the World — More than 50 instruments

Michael Albert — New York pop artist, cereal box collages

Michael Ray — Strolling origami artist

Face Painting

Food Vendors

Community Organization Tents

Giant White Board public art project


Friday Classes and Entertainment

11 a.m. — Chelsey Keding, second stage

Noon — Kids class to be determined

Noon — Hummingbyrds, main stage

1 p.m. — Kids, mini-comics; adults, fabric beads

1 p.m. — Ryan Mowry, second stage

1 p.m. — Culinary demonstration

2 p.m. — Kids, bike part jewelry

2 p.m. — Bill Gorby, main stage

3 p.m. — Kids, polymer clay pins; adults, Sumi-E (Japanese painting)

3 p.m. — Brett Cain, second stage

3 p.m. — Culinary demonstration

4 p.m. — Kids, spin art

4 p.m. — Mahajibee Blue

5 p.m. — Kids, pulled string art; adults, mixed media journals

5 p.m. — Culinary demonstration

6 p.m. — Kids, printmaking

6:30 p.m. — Ezra John


Saturday Classes and Entertainment

11 a.m. — Black Slaney, second stage

11 a.m. — Culinary demonstration

Noon — Kids, tangrams

Noon — Joshua Lee, main stage

1 p.m. — Flow Band, second stage

1 p.m. — Kids tissue paper painting, adults Z Jewelry

1 p.m. — Culinary demonstration

2 p.m. — Soup Camel, main stage

2 p.m. — Kids super secret picture necklaces

2 p.m. — Oglebay Institute Prosers

3 p.m. — Steel Casa, second stage

3 p.m. — Kids, polymer clay pins; adults, upcycled keyring

3 p.m. — Culinary demonstration

3 p.m. –Judi Tarowsky, storytelling

4 p.m. –Kids, friendship bracelets

5 p.m. — Kids, watercolor markers; adults, steampunk jewelry

5 p.m. — Culinary demonstration

5:30 p.m. — Reggie Watkins and Steeltown Horns, main stage

6 p.m. — Kids, no-sew felt animal mask

7 p.m. — Timbaleeza, second stage

Schedule subject to change

Photo Provided Reggie Watkins, third from left, performs on the trombone with the Steeltown Horns, which will headline the 2017 Wheeling Arts and Culture Fest at Wheeling Heritage Port Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The free concert caps two days of continuous live musical entertainment from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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