Enjoying the paintings at Artworks Around Town, the spirits of Casa di Vino and the interactive science products at SMART Centre Market, hundreds took to the streets for the monthly First Fridays celebration.
"First Fridays works pretty well for us. We just wish more businesses down here would get into it," said Greg Myers, owner of Casa di Vino in Wheeling's Centre Market.
In providing a wine tasting service Friday, Myers quickly ran out of room in his store, eventually having to ask some customers to wait until others left.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Casa di Vino in Wheeling’s Centre Market packs a crowd during the First Fridays celebration.
"The crowds here continue to get bigger," said wine taster Courtney Algeo of Bellaire. "It is so great to see something like this is the valley."
Joining her at Casa di Vino was Algeo's mother, Kelly Algeo of Powhatan Point.
"This is a really popular place," Kelly Algeo said. "We love the Centre Market, and we love First Fridays."
The general concept of First Fridays is for certain shops in the Centre Market and downtown areas of Wheeling to stay open later than usual on the initial Friday evening of the month, with business owners providing special offers to attract customers to their shops. Throughout the downtown and Center Wheeling areas, special offers including everything from free appetizers with draft beer purchases to deals on cookies and hot dogs. There was also plenty of live entertainment throughout the area.
"It has been a couple of years since we have been to First Fridays, but we enjoy it," added another wine taster, Lisa Flanigan of Bellaire. "This is something that is really good for the city."
"It is great to see local businesses promoted like this - it helps keep the money local," said Trisha McClean of Wheeling.
Bob Heldreth of Wheeling also enjoyed the wine tasting, noting, "First Fridays continues to grow. This place is packed."
Over at the SMART Centre Market - an interactive science product store - owners Robert and Libby Strong showed off their collection of dinosaur fossil replicas, rocks and science toys. The store also hosted members of the Cabin Fever String Band, who played in front of a fossil replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
"It is a super idea," Robert Strong said of First Fridays. "Generally, we bring in a lot of folks who have never been here before, which helps us let people know what we do."
The next regularly scheduled First Fridays event is set for June 1.