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Fire Up The Kettle

Who would have thought that kettle corn could mean so much to so many? Apparently that large kettle over an open fire producing hundreds of bags of the sweet corn at Oglebayfest each year is one of the most popular attractions at the fall festival.

And it’s just not the kettle corn people are clamoring for; there are other traditions that have taken on an especially significant meaning this year. Since 1978, people from the Ohio Valley and beyond have traversed the winding routes leading to Oglebay Park’s hilltop perch in Wheeling to enjoy the annual weekend autumn festival. It has been a tradition each first full weekend in October. It kicks off with a parade at 9:30 Saturday morning (today) and goes on with so much more until 11 p.m. today and Sunday.

Since COVID derailed many such plans last year, this weekend’s Oglebayfest is expected to attract a record crowd; and why not?

Most everything you want to see and do is outdoors, and Mother Nature is cooperating for the most part. Oglebayfest allows you to social distance if you want to or join in the annual meeting up of friends and family. It’s no secret that Oglebayfest has served as an unofficial time and gathering place for families’ and friends’ reunions.

Wilson Lodge and the many cottages on the park property are filled and people are enjoying lighting an evening fire in the fireplace and rekindling good times.

Thousands of visitors are taking in the arts and crafts, marketplace offerings, the Ohio County Country Fair with its live animals, contests and more. There is a variety of music, dancing, seasonal food, and fun stuff just for the kiddies and much more. Or you can just pack a picnic supper and sit on the hillside awaiting the Saturday night fireworks at dusk.

I cannot remember a year, other than the COVID year, that I did not attend Oglebayfest. Well, I’ll take that back. In 1985, I was busy giving birth to our son Jamie on the Saturday of Oglebayfest. And he celebrated his first birthday at the next year’s festival.

While we have that personal connection to Oglebayfest weekend, there are so many more people who do as well.

Whether it’s watching the parade, visiting the Ohio Country Fair, the arts and crafts or taking the grandkids on the Good Zoo train, you can make your own traditions this weekend.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll see you there. And don’t forget the kettle corn.

Heather Ziegler can be reached as hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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