WHEELING - Whether they learned new ways to express themselves via writing, singing, drawing, painting or crafting, all who attended the second annual Wheeling Arts Fest Saturday found something to do.
"It is so very impressive for a city this size to play host to so many remarkably talented artists in a single weekend," said West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman regarding the event.
The festival, sponsored by the city of Wheeling Arts and Cultural Commission, took place at various sites along 16th Street. These included the West Virginia Northern Community College on the Square in front of the B & O Building, West Virginia Independence Hall, the Ohio County Public Library, and a stage set up in the street. Visual, literary, musical and other forms of art were all on display.
Jamie McAninch draws pictures with her four-year-old niece, Jessamine Schmidt, during the Wheeling Arts Fest Saturday.
Photos by Casey Junkins
Festival planners and Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie honored Harshman by recognizing him with the inaugural Harshman Distinguished Arts Award. Organizers plan to present the plaque bearing Harshman's name to a new artist each year as the festival progresses through the years.
"I am very humbled and pleased to receive the award," Harshman said.
Festival coordinator Erika Donaghy said the purpose of the event is to promote awareness of the historical and contemporary contributions artists have added to the Wheeling experience.
"If we are missing an art, I don't know what it is," she said.
"This year, we have more artists, more entertainment and more variety. We have rock, blues and jazz music. And best of all, it's all free."
At one of the more popular displays, Jamie McAninch enjoyed drawing pictures with her four-year-old niece, Jessamine Schmidt.
"I think it's a really nice festival - we have enjoyed all of it," McAninch said.
Also attracting attention while walking on her 24-inch stilts was Wheeling resident Micah Labishak.
"I am just here to help draw a crowd she said," noting she took a class in college that helped her learn how to operate the stilts.
Wheeling resident Robert Gaudio serves as chairman of the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival, which is set for July 27-29 at Heritage Port.
"I think they are doing well here for just the second year," Gaudio said of the arts fest while checking out some of the displays. "There is a pretty nice crowd and lots of activities."