Arts and Culture Fest Today and Saturday

The 2017 Arts and Culture Fest takes place today and Saturday, June 17, at Wheeling’s Heritage Port.

Hands-on art projects, free classes, games from around the world, diverse musical acts, culinary demonstrations, random acts of kindness, and storytelling are some of the activities taking place at the event. The festival is hosted by the Wheeling Arts and Cultural Commission and the YWCA Wheeling.

More than 20 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 and craft beer also will be available.

The musical headliner on Saturday is the Steeltown Horns with Reggie Watkins, a Wheeling native who 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.

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.

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 http://wheelingartsfest. com.