Summer’s Kickoff Weekend Runs on BBQ, Music & Healthy Vibes

Summer’s Kickoff Weekend Runs on BBQ, Music & Healthy Vibes

By Phyllis Sigal

Feed your inner barbecue lover, your inner athlete and your inner music lover as summer gets its game on over Memorial Day Weekend in Wheeling, West Virginia.

From the inaugural Oglebay Backyard BBQ presented by the Glessner Group to the Ogden Newspapers Wellness Weekend presented by WVU Medicine to the Lee Brice concert at The Capitol Theatre, there will be plenty for visitors to do in the city — rain or shine.


It’s a full weekend of beer, bourbon, bands, bacon, biscuits and some of the “best BBQ from around the country,” according to officials at Oglebay.

“Oglebay has Oglebayfest in the fall and Festival of Lights in the winter. It seemed like a natural move to add something for the summer for families to enjoy. Oglebay is often referred to by locals as a ‘park in their own backyard.’ A barbecue-type venue seemed like a natural fit for summer get-togethers and outdoor fun,” said Andy Brown, the park’s director of special events and programming.

A concert featuring The Gin Blossoms and The Clarks, along with live music from area bands on two additional stages, will fill the air throughout the weekend.

The ticketed concert set to begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 28 — with about 3,000 expected in attendance — will be located on the band field at Camp Russel, while additional bands will perform throughout the weekend on Levenson Field Stage.

Backyard BBQ guests can participate in a “BBQ & A” on Friday, May 27, and four “Q Schools” will educate visitors in pork, poultry, beef, and sauce vs. rub classes throughout the day on Saturday, May 28.

“We will have pit masters leading cooking demonstrations and have opportunities for some hands-on learning including tips and tricks from barbecue professionals,” Brown noted. “The classes are demonstrations and cover meat selection, preparation of meat, rub construction, marinades, brines and sauce theory. They will also discuss various types of smokers, woods and cooking techniques.”

Premier barbecue purveyor Hangover BBQ is one of the many vendors for the event. The venue is extra special to Stephanie Warren-Litman and Billy Litman because the two tied the knot at Camp Russel on Memorial Day Weekend seven years ago.

“We are excited about the Backyard BBQ festival this year at Oglebay! It’s a beautiful location,” Warren-Litman said. “This is a great way for the barbecue community in the Ohio Valley to showcase what we have to offer. We will be featuring some of our favorite items. It will be a big weekend in Wheeling, and we look forward to being a part of it.”

Hangover BBQ will join other food trucks — Holy Rollers Donut Truck, Chefs Table, Mason Dixon BBQ Co., Wood Fired Pizza Co., Igs Pigs BBQ, Kona Ice, Steel City Chimneys, Cruzin Cuisine, Jim’s Smokin’ Que and Ideal Provisions — to feed the masses near Levenson Shelter.

Don’t miss the Shelter of Libations, located at the Levenson Shelter, where there will be a selection of craft and domestic beer, as well as a bourbon-tasting tent.

Little ones can jump around on inflatables and be enchanted by a magic show in the Little Piggy Play Station, also in the Levenson Shelter area.

Presenting sponsor for the festival is The Glessner Group. “The generosity and commitment to the community from the Glessner group is what made this fantastic event possible and we are thrilled to have them on board,” Brown said, “We could not be more excited to see how this event will grow in the coming years”.

Gary Glessner, president of The Glessner Group, noted that the sponsorship value “is in building our brand recognition throughout the tri-state area as much as possible, and what better way to do it than to partner with the largest public park in our area.” Another benefit? Bringing “world-class events to the local area that all family members can attend,” Glessner added.

“We want everyone to get out and celebrate the unofficial start to summer with a fun festival that can be enjoyed by all ages,” Brown said, adding, “Memorial Day weekend is notoriously a really busy weekend at Oglebay, and this year will not be any different. We are near capacity, and there are a handful of events happening in the local area that will certainly increase tourism.”


A brand-new moniker sets the tone for the 44th Memorial Day Weekend half marathon. The WVU Medicine Wellness Weekend will not only incorporate several race events, but the addition of health-related information tables inside the lobby of WesBanco Arena, said Joe Lovell, race director.

Lovell is very happy that they are back after the event was sidelined by COVID-19 for the past two years.

Race events start at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 28. The Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Run steps off at 7:30 a.m. with the Half Marathon Walk starting at 7:50 a.m. The 5K Twin Pops Run/Walk for Health presented by Ziegenfelder begins at 7:50 a.m. (walk) and 8 a.m. (run).

Other events include the Ogden Fun Run presented by Ziegenfelder (8:30 a.m. Saturday) and the Tiny Tot Trot presented by Ziegenfelder (10:30 a.m. Saturday).

The grueling 6-mile Ogden Newspapers Tough as Nails Urban Challenge presented by Health Plan — complete with obstacles, steps and a cliff run — is set or noon on Sunday, May 29.

“You don’t have to be a runner or walker to be involved. Come on down to the support the food trucks, listen to the music and watch the runners and walkers come in at the finish line,” Lovell said. Award presentations, bands, a disc jockey, food vendors and an impressive portable bar can be enjoyed from race time until about 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The weekend winds up when the Ohio Valley Trail Partners present the 15th tour of the Wheeling Heritage Trail on Monday, May 30,  at Heritage Port in Wheeling—1201 Water St. Registration will begin at 7 a.m. The tour will begin at 8 a.m. with the start of the 100km riders. Those riding 30 miles will begin at 8:45 a.m. The 10-mile ride begins at 9 a.m.and heads south on the trail from Heritage Port.


Country music fans can enjoy close to three hours of live music on Saturday, May 28, at The Capitol Theatre, said concert promoter Dustin Knowlton of Big Time Entertainment.

Country singer Lee Brice has released five albums, 18 singles and eight of his songs have risen to No. 1, Knowlton noted.

Known for co-writing the Garth Brooks’ hit, “More Than a Memory,” Brice has written songs for Jason Aldean, the Eli Young Band and Tim McGraw. His 2010 debut album “Love Like Crazy” scored a hit with the title song. Other hits include, “I Drive Your Truck,” “I Don’t Dance” and “Drinking Class.”

Opening for Brice will be the Cadillac Three. They “are pretty big in the Nashville music scene,” Knowlton added.

“We’ll tell folks to not worry about any rainstorms that day because we’ll be on the Capitol Theatre [stage] with a full house and a rockin’ show,” he said.

For more information, visit: