Most of Park Dedicated to Oglebayfest

WHEELING – Many areas of Oglebay Park became a flurry of activity Friday as visitors began making their way to Oglebayfest – one of area’s premier fall events.

The festival, which is in its 36th year, utilizes virtually every area of the park, according to John Hargleroad, director of park operations.

“It’s Wheeling’s homecoming … because folks from Wheeling come back to reconnect with friends and family,” said Hargleroad. “I would venture to say that most of the cottages are rented by current or former Wheeling residents.”

“There are really many different things going on all the time,” Hargleroad added. He said while Oglebayfest encompasses the entire park, the Phil Maxwell Artists and Gourmet Markets located on the hilltop near the Mansion Museum traditionally have attracted the most visitors.

The markets offer a view of the area’s best artisans at work, plus an extensive selection of local and regional foods. Both markets will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Just a short distance from the markets, workers were still setting up the Ohio County Fair at Site One near Camp Russell. While some activities were slated for Friday evening, including a square dance, most of the fair activities are scheduled for today and Sunday.

Volunteer Rex Strawn of Valley Grove, who was busy posting signs outside the livestock tent, said he was one of many volunteers who have become accustomed to helping out with the fair every year.

He said that while they begin setting things up earlier in the week, most of the finishing touches are added to the fairgrounds on Friday.

The grounds were busy by Friday evening and included visitors like Kathy Blatt of Wheeling, who attended with her six young daughters.

“We come every year,” she said. “They all made pumpkins for judging.”

Susan Bennett of Wellsville, who was visiting the festival with several of her friends, said she enjoys coming back to the festival each year.

“I just enjoy it so much. The weather is really beautiful and the vendors are very friendly … it’s just really nice,” she said.

Dogs are frequent visitors to Oglebayfest, and Cecil and Tammy Chiplinski walked their Sussex spaniel, Rusty, along the paths of the craft fair. The couple said they attend every year.

Medical student Jessica Helfer of Wheeling was seeking a break at Oglebayfest from studying for upcoming medical boards.

“I’m here for food, wine and a study break,” she said.

Oglebayfest began in 1978 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Oglebay and, “provides an annual thank-you to all who visit us year-round,” according to Hargleroad.