18th Annual Heritage Port Sternwheel Festival Opens Thursday in Wheeling

Wheeling’s waterfront will be filling up with plenty of boats over the next few days as the 18th Annual Heritage Port Sternwheel Festival gets underway Thursday.

WHEELING — With the three-day annual Heritage Port Sternwheel Festival slated to begin Thursday, there will be something for the entire family, according to Festival Chairwoman Diane Jordan.

In addition to viewing about a half dozen sternwheel vessels docked at the waterfront, visitors can expect to see live musical entertainment, food vendors, a children’s area (which will include inflatables), fireworks displays on Friday and Saturday, and a visit from a Gateway Clipper Fleet vessel on Friday.

Expected to be docked near the main stage area, the Gateway Clipper will be offering rides (for a fee) at 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., with a sold-out dinner cruise scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.

“We are excited to have them here,” Jordan said.

She said the the Gateway Clipper is expected to dock back at Heritage Port before the 9:30 fireworks display Friday. The Friday night fireworks is being put on by the Wheeling 250 Celebration.

“A new treat this year is there are fireworks two nights (Friday and Saturday),” Jordan added.

She said the Sternwheel Festival will be sponsoring the Saturday night fireworks display.

“It is very much a family event. There is something for everybody,” Jordan added.

She said work crews have been busy this week installing water lines for food vendors and electrical hook-ups for visiting boats. She said the entertainment momentum is expected to build throughout each day of the festival.

Frank O’Brien, executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Gateway Clipper was invited to be part of a Wheeling 250 Celebration event earlier this summer, but inclement weather prohibited the vessel from coming to Wheeling.

“It’s all part of the celebration of Wheeling’s 250th birthday,” O’Brien explained. “It will really go back to Wheeling’s history of the river and the boats — and we’re pretty happy about all of that coming together,” he added.

Sternwheel Festival Schedule of Events:


11:30 a.m. – Festival opens – National Anthem & announcements

Noon – 2 p.m. – Paul Milovac

2:30 – 4 p.m. – Tom Roddey

4:30 – 6 p.m. – Drifting Hoopie Experience

7:00 – 8:30 p.m. – The Original Fantasy’s


12:00 – 2 p.m. – Chelsea Matta Householder

3 – 5 p.m. – Gateway Clipper offering rides

3 – 5 p.m. – Buffington Brothers

7 p.m. – Gateway Clipper Dinner Cruise

5 – 9 p.m. – Car Show / Rain Date 9-14-2019

6 – 8 p.m. – Twice As Nice

9 – 10:30 p.m. – Frankie Valli & The 4 Seasons / Tribute Band “Light Out”

9:30 p.m. – Fireworks Display (Put on by Wheeling 250 Celebration)


Noon – 1 p.m. – Stevie Lynn

2:00 – 3 p.m. – The Ariellettes Academy

3:30 – 5 p.m. – Honkeytonk Sweethearts

6:00 – 8 p.m. – U. S. KIDS

8:15 – 8:30 p.m. – Patriotic Salute

9:00 – 10:30 p.m. – Earth Wind and Fire Tribute Band “Let’s Groove Tonight”

10:45 p.m. – Fireworks by Zambelli’s


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