What to Do, What to Do?

As a I write these words, someone is cooking up a batch of sweet onions and green peppers on a grill alongside some large Italian sausages. Meatballs are crowded into a simmering pot of aromatic tomato sauce also known as “red gravy.” Funnel cake batter is being swirled into hot grease then to be dusted in a coating of snow-white powdered sugar. Sweet tea and tart lemonade are waiting to be downed.

Are you hungry yet? Every year as summer kicks into high gear, along with the temperature, festivals dot our landscape from the tip of the Northern Panhandle to the far reaches of the Mountain State. Our neighboring Ohio and Pennsylvania friends also have shown they know how to throw some memorable parties as well.

Church festivals are among some of the most popular events although many have waned over the years as churches are closed and consolidated. The population just doesn’t support as many congregations but, don’t despair, the Ohio Valley still has more church steeples on the skyline than bars and beauty salons combined. Just check the phone book (yes, I still use one) and you’ll see the yellow page listings or look at today’s church page listings in this newspaper.

I belong to such a church that still holds an annual festival every July. And while St. Michael Parish Community Festival’s focus is fixed on welcoming the entire community to dine, laugh, play games and take a chance on something fun, the heavy-hitting gambling games of yesteryears are gone. It was a bone of contention for some who enjoyed the roulette wheel and poker games, but the majority believed a more family-oriented festival was in order. This faithful step has not failed the church ever since. The festival wraps up at 11 p.m. today, but not before a whole lot of food needs to be consumed and games for the kids played and good conversations are shared.

Are you looking for a cultural experience? Head to Heritage Port in Wheeling today and enjoy the Festival of India with its bright colors, dancers and traditions. Sample foods not found at the drive-thru. Let the kids learn something about another land and people not found in school books. The float parade at 5 p.m. is something to see.

Or maybe head south to McMechen and enjoy a day on the riverfront at the Lock 13 Riverfest where kids and adults alike will be entertained. Those festival foods are calling hungry folks to enjoy while, perhaps, watching a hot-dog eating contest or kayak race on the river.

If a serene setting is more to your liking, take a drive today to Bethesda, Ohio for the annual Chautauqua Homecoming Days at Epworth Park. Take a step back to a place where history remains intact and the simpler pleasures of life are enjoyed. The event also promises a good time through 4 p.m.

These are just a sampling of things to come. Keep your weekends open now until the snow flies. The festival rides have just begun!

Heather Ziegler can be reached at: hziegler@theintelligencer.net.