PARKERSBURG - The community came out for a picnic Wednesday evening at North Parkersburg Baptist Church's Friendship Kitchen.
More than 600 people from the area enjoyed food as well as games and other activities for those of all ages in the parking lot across from the church on Emerson Avenue. The picnic was one of the events going on throughout the community this week to commemorate West Virginia's sesquicentennial anniversary.
Those organizing events in the community for the state's 150th anniversary reached out to the church to see if it would want to do anything special.
Photos by Brett Dunlap
Don Warner grills hot dogs at a community picnic hosted by North Parkersburg Baptist Church Wednesday as part of communitywide celebrations commemorating West Virginia’s sesquicentennial anniversary.
"We chose we would do a big picnic for the community," said Susie Meredith, who oversees the church's Friendship Kitchen. "We love doing things for the community."
The church initially bought food for 600 people. Volunteers grilled hot dogs and served homemade sauce, coleslaw, relish, macaroni salad, baked beans, chips and cookies.
At one point, they had to buy more food because they ran out, the church's adult Pastor Mike Towner said.
"We had more people turn out than we had planned for which is a great thing," he said. "It has gone really well.
"We just love being able to serve the community and the community showed up to be served. It is a great thing."
The event featured face painters, a bounce house, Disney characters that interacted with the children, a cornhole demonstration, an illusionist and a cartoonist.
Celebrating the state was a theme throughout the event as cookies had a "WV" iced on them and face painters painted the West Virginia University logo on people.
"We are so pleased to be able to do something for the state of West Virginia," Meredith said.
Parkersburg Woman's Club has been coordinating celebration events in the community. Woman's club members came to the picnic to support the events and were impressed with what North Parkersburg Baptist Church put together.
"I think it is good when you can have a community gather people together from all walks of life to celebrate one thing, West Virginia's 150th birthday," said Judy Parrish, vice president of the Parkersburg Woman's Club. "All of these events are really bringing the community together all in one accord, to be happy to be West Virginians."
Mike Kapp of Parkersburg attends North Parkersburg Baptist. He was talking with people and helping others.
"It is really good," he said of all the people and activity. "We had a really good turnout."
Gina Miller of Waverly attends North and said they came a little late to the picnic, but they saw a lot of people come out for the event.
"It is pretty awesome," she said. "I always love being with my church family. These are good people."
A woman who only wanted to be identified as "Shelia" said she came out to be with others as everyone celebrated the state's 150th birthday.
"I also wanted to be among people around here who helped me out at a time when I was in need," she said. "I just enjoy being around the people here."
The point of the event was to get people together with other people, Meredith said. Besides, everyone loves a picnic in the summertime, she said.
"People want to get out and be with people," she said. "People love to see children having a good time. I think that is important, but good food is also important.
"I am hoping people will meet new friends here and they are going to feel God's love through all of our volunteers. I want them to have good food and good fellowship."
Meredith said a community picnic in the summertime may become an annual event for the church.
"We thought this might be something we do again next year," she said. "We may keep going with it if it goes well tonight."
An event like this helps show people there is love and caring in the community, Towner said.
"I think they felt that tonight," he said. "It was really a successful event."