W.Va. 150th Events Continue

WHEELING – Jeremy Morris let his facial hair grow for three months in preparation for the Friday Wheeling Beers & Beards event at River City – part of the West Virginia sesquicentennial celebration.

Soon, the executive director of the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp. will finally be able to shave.

“My wife has been waiting for West Virginia Day to get here so I would shave,” he said while preparing to judge beards grown by contest participants.

Morris said he might have a little bit of an advantage if he entered the competition.

“The most peculiar thing about the fashion of the 1860s was the beards. This was just a way to celebrate that,” he said.

During the last few days, Wheeling has hosted the West Virginia Legislature as part of its festivities surrounding the 150th anniversary of statehood, while holding concerts and fireworks at Heritage Port. Morris, one of those charged with organizing the Wheeling events, said the week has been “amazing.”

“It has really been a great, week-long event that I really hope the community has been able to enjoy,” he added.

Performing at West Virginia Independence Hall on Friday were members of the Blue & Gray Community Choir of Philippi, W.Va. Kate Quinn, vice president of Friends of Wheeling, said she was very impressed with the group while hearing their music on CD.

“They have been wanting to perform here for a long time. We are glad we were finally able to arrange it for them,” Quinn said of the choir.

Also enjoying the choir show was historian Margaret Brennan of Wheeling. She said every event this week has helped to educate the public about the Mountain State’s importance in the history of the Civil War.

“The courage and vision they showed is something for us to ponder as we deal with the issues of today,” Brennan said of West Virginia’s founders. “They were truly committed to a cause.”

Also Friday, there was a Riverfront Movie Night showing of the film “Lincoln,” which describes the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.

The West Virginia Sesquicentennial Statehood Ball will conclude Wheeling’s celebration of the state’s 150th birthday today. Dinner is at 6 p.m. with music and dancing from 7-9 p.m. in the McLure Hotel Ballroom at the corner of 12th and Market streets.