PARKERSBURG-Hundreds of people gathered Friday night at City Park for the first night of the 16th annual Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival.
The Gas House Gorillas began what will be three days of music, activities, vendors, food and fun at City Park, getting the crowd jumping with the band's repertoire of styles, including Jump Blues, Gypsy Swing, early Rock and Roll and Cajun music.
The Spirit of the Pacific followed with Polynesian and Pacific Island dances, including crowd participation pieces, and the night closed out with Kevin Howard Jazz.
Spirit of the Pacific demonstrates a variety of Polynesian, Hawaiian and other Pacific island dances
Parkersburg resident Jeremy Kelbaugh was grooving to the Gorillas' music as his 2-year-old daughter Lily bopped along on his shoulder.
"I think this is something cool that they do every year," Kelbaugh said of the festival. "We look forward to it every year and we don't miss it. For the past two years, she's enjoyed it very much," he said of Lily.
"This is something different in an area that doesn't have something like this that often," he said, adding the entertainment is the family's favorite part.
Photos by Jeff Baughan
Camille Fenton sits in the opening of an inflatable obstacle course at the Kids Zone on the opening night of the annual Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival at City Park.
Gas House Gorillas lead singer Rick Fink sings from the shoulders of bassist Jerry Scaringe.
C. J. Carrodus, 3, of Parkersburg works on a chocolate ice cream cone while his brother, Austin, 1, eyes a concession stand.
Briana Brooks of the Spirit of the Pacific Islands dances Friday evening.
Sandy Vickers of Parkersburg and her daughters, Trinity, 10, and Kandra, 12, also like coming back to the multi-cultural festival each year, primarily because of the wide range of entertainment and the interesting merchandise available.
"The festival is great, the music, and they like to go buy all of the jewelry. The henna tattoos are wonderful," she said.
Parkersburg resident Steve Black returned for a second year to the festival Friday night to enjoy the food, entertainment and attractions.
11 a.m.: Kevin Locke (Lakota hoop dancer)
11:30 a.m.: Drum making workshop
Noon: Stamba Souls Belly Dancing and Mama Lotus Belly Dancing
1 p.m.: Baba Jubal (African drummer and storyteller)
2 p.m.: Bigley Martial Arts/Pride Dojo
3 p.m.: Ken and Mary (German accordions)
4 p.m.: Kevin Locke (Lakoka hoop dancer)
4:45 p.m.: SH Kang's Tae Kwon Do demonstration
5:30 p.m.: The Prodigals (Celtic rock)
7 p.m.: Maybelogic
9 p.m.: The Flow Band (classic reggae)
"I think it's pretty cool. I like the music and the food isn't bad," he said.
In addition to the on-stage entertainment, festival-goers had the opportunity to peruse a variety of items from vendors or sample cuisines from more than a dozen cultures.
Admission is free to the festival, which began Friday and continues today from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.
Festival spokesman Bea Corra urged parents to bring their children to the festival this weekend, as there will be activities geared toward young people at the event. The City Park Pavilion will feature a variety of arts and crafts stations for children today and Sunday.
The West Virginia University Extension Service has returned with its "History Hitting the Road" program to the festival. The history program features a horse-drawn wagon from the 1800s and docents dressed in period clothing providing hands-on experiences for children and adults in activities from candle-making to paper marbling.
Corra believes interest in the Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival remains strong and growing. While the event didn't open until early Friday evening, she said people were milling around the festival area as everything was being set up from Friday morning throughout the day.
She praised the efforts of volunteers who help put on the festival every year and make it what it is year after year.
"It's just a great family event," she said.
Corra said there was a last-minute change to today's entertainment schedule. For the 7 p.m. slot, Roland Matias and the Afro-Rican Ensemble was not expected to attend and has been replaced by Maybelogic of Marietta.