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Getting Out in the Ohio Valley

February 28, 2013
By DANIEL DORSCH - Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - There's always plenty to do in the Upper Ohio Valley - sometimes you just have to be willing to try new things.

From ice skating at Wheeling Park to skiing at Oglebay, this time of year is not without activities.

Several local communities also have set up ice skating options. Just north of Rite Aid Pharmacy along W.Va. 2 in Follansbee, fields used for soccer and football practice during the warmer months have been turned into ice rinks.

Article Photos

Festival-goers walk along Water Street during the 2012 Upper Ohio Valley Italian Festival. The festival is one of many that takes place on Wheeling’s waterfront each summer.

File Photo

Follansbee City Manager John DeStefano said the rink is open daily as long as weather permits from daylight until approximately 10 p.m., at which time Follansbee city employees turn the lights off. Wellsburg has made a similar ice skating rink at the Betty Carr Park.

And if the cold weather is not to your liking, take a visit to West Virginia Independence Hall in downtown Wheeling - the birthplace of West Virginia.

Historic Fort Steuben in Steubenville offered special exhibits for Black History Month, including The Civil War: an African-American Experience and the Tuskegee Airmen of the Ohio Valley.

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m Monday through Friday.

In Moundsville, the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex features an exhibit on the ancient "Mound Builders" who lived in the Ohio Valley and built large earthen burial mounds. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.

The annual festival season kicks in once the weather warms.

Wheeling officials soon will be releasing details of the 2013 festival season for downtown, but it's safe to say that during the summer months through September, there's always something going on at Heritage Port.

Some of the traditional favorites include the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Festival, Heritage Music BluesFest, the Wheeling Feeling Chili Cook-Off, Vintage Raceboat Regatta and others. During the week, there's also Waterfront Wednesday and, on occasion, a Friday movie night.

"When you consider the amount of activities we have going on from March until September, it is extraordinary," said Frank O'Brien, executive director of the Wheeling-Ohio County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"Other communities of comparable size just don't have these kinds of things, or at least not anywhere near as many of them," O'Brien said. "We really have some outstanding attractions."

At Oglebay Park, the warm weather brings the return of golf, hiking, the outdoor concert series, festivals such as Oglebayfest and other events.

"It truly is extraordinary that Oglebay Park is run by a city commission. Most parks of that caliber are privately owned," he said.

The Children's Museum of the Ohio Valley offers youngsters a chance to improve their minds through play, while organizations such as the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra continue to provide area residents with performances normally found only in much larger cities.

Oglebay Institute features programs for all age ranges, while the Towngate Theatre showcases weekly movies and occasional plays for area residents.

A full schedule of events in Wheeling will be released this spring.

Meanwhile, on the western side of the Ohio River, the Belmont County Tourism Council promotes activities throughout the county. Jamboree In The Hills, the major country music festival that takes place near Morristown every July, is the county's largest draw.

There's also the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival, the Belmont County Victorian Mansion Museum, the National Imperial Glass Museum and the Bellaire Toy and Plastic Brick Museum.

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