Oglebayfest Under Way

WHEELING – For all those worried about predicted rain showers dampening Oglebayfest this year, John Hargleroad, director of Oglebay Park operations, has assured “there’s not that much rain scheduled” for the weekend.

“Everything goes on rain or shine all day long, so don’t worry about that,” Hargleroad said. “One day we canceled the parade because of rain and I will never do that again. The only serious complaints I got about Oglebayfest, and I’ve been at this for all 35 years, is the year we elected to cancel the parade because it was raining. The forecast, though it’s not quite as nice as we would like, it’s fine. It’s not going to be a lot of rain.”

Oglebayfest kicked off its 35th year Friday with artists and crafters showing their works at the Phil Maxwell Artists’ and Gourmet Markets located in the Mansion Woods and free glassblowing on the mansion lawn.

Hargleroad said the artists’ market was renamed this year in honor of the generosity of Phil Maxwell who has worked for the Oglebay Institute from 1935 to his retirement in the 1990s and has worked with the Wheeling Park Commission over the years.

Although Oglebayfest maintained most of its traditions over the years, Hargleroad mentioned there are some small changes this year. He said musical entertainment usually held in the Pine Room was relocated to the Haller Shelter where the Marsh Wheeling String Band and Legend Band played for free from 7-11:30 p.m. Also new this year, people who participate in activities sponsored by the Health Plan at the Good Zoo will receive free wristbands that give them access to all park activities today.

Hargleroad said Oglebayfest provides ample shuttle services including school buses and trolleys to provide transportation around the park to make sure guests get around easily.

While festival goers bustled in the artists’ market, down the road vendors were busy setting up tents and booths for the 30th Ohio County Country Fair at Site 1. The fair, which runs through 5 p.m. Sunday, offers displays of flowers, baked goods, homegrown fruits and vegetables, exhibits from 4-H clubs. Children are likely to enjoy the many farm animals at the fair including cows, horses, sheep and pigs.

David McCardle of the Northern Panhandle Stockman’s Association said he has brought his livestock to the country fair every year for about 30 years.

“We have dairy cows, beef cattle, several calfs and some pigs. My grandson takes care of them,” McCardle said. “Years ago, people brought a lot more big animals, but everyone got older and retired, but the grandkids are interested in the farm and the animals and that keeps us involved.”

“There’s always new things going on down at the Country Fair,” Hargleroad said. “A lot more the same than different, but there’s always some new booths, educational exhibits that’s always ever changing,”

Events today include the traditional parade from the Good Zoo at 9:30 a.m., free admission to the Good Zoo and the Mansion Museum with a wristband all day, and pony rides and inflatables at the Schenk Lake area at noon. The much beloved fireworks at Schenk Lake will be at 8 p.m. with the band Smoke Daddy & the Crawfish capping off the evening at Haller Shelter at 8:30 p.m.