Upcoming Wheeling 250 Events Will Have You Sailing Down the River
Upcoming Wheeling 250 Events to Celebrate Statehood, West Virginia Independence Hall and Wheeling Suspension Bridge Milestones
By Jessica Broverman
A once-in-a-lifetime celebration experience is on tap on from Thursday, June 20, through Sunday, June 23, marking milestone anniversaries with family-friendly signature summer events.
“A number of elements came together to create an opportunity for a unique destination weekend,” said Jay Frey, chairman of the Wheeling 250 Committee. “Bill Brooks, organizer of the Ohio Valley Chicken and Rib Cook-Off, graciously welcomed the idea of teaming up with Wheeling 250 for our bridge celebration.”
On West Virginia Day, the 156th anniversary of statehood will be observed with a free program and birthday cake at noon, June 20, at West Virginia Independence Hall, 1528 Market St.
At 5 p.m., June 21, an open house and reception will commemorate the 160th anniversary of the U.S. Custom House, known now as West Virginia Independence Hall. The event is free and hosted by the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History.
Wheeling Heritage Port is the site for the 170th anniversary of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 22.
On June 21 and 22, the Ohio Valley Chicken and Rib Cook-Off will offer meal options, live music and a beer garden for adults to enjoy. Brooks’ goal is to have community members from different walks of life come together and enjoy what the weekend has to offer. “I hope to see white people and black people eating together and laughing together. That’s the kind of thing we are trying to do,” he said.
From 9 a.m. to dusk local artist Mindi Yarbrough will host a plein air painting party. Community members may bring their own art supplies to paint alongside Yarbrough as she creates unique pieces of work.
“Some people think they aren’t an artist, and I want people to get over that and participate no matter what the skill level and try something new,” said Yarbrough.
“People love art, and I want it to be a day where artists from all over the community can come together. I want it to be something that is no pressure and fun and let people try it.”
Additional guest artists are art professional Greg Siegwart and West Liberty University art professor Brian Fencl.
Tickets will be available for river excursions from noon to 6 p.m. June 22 aboard Pittsburgh’s Gateway Clipper Queen to view the Suspension Bridge from the water. Tickets are $15 for adults; $1 for children under the age of 12.
Speakers will present storytelling programs about the Suspension Bridge throughout the day.
“We have five local historians scheduled to share stories about the bridge’s engineering features, its construction by the Wheeling and Belmont Bridge Company, and the collapse of the roadbed and cables in a storm in 1854,” said Frey.
“Attorney C.J. Kaiser will relate the story of Pittsburgh’s lawsuit, claiming that the bridge obstructed river traffic with the goal of tearing it down. Travis Henline of Wheeling Heritage will portray Charles Ellet Jr. who designed the bridge,” Frey said.
“This day is a unique, stand-alone, one-time experience, anchored in the recognition of the importance of Wheeling’s most iconic structure, the Suspension Bridge,” Henline said. “The bridge is a designated National Historic Landmark and the first bridge to cross the Ohio River as part of the National Road and as a gateway to the West.”
Saturday will be capped with a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m.
Tickets will be available at $75 per person for a fireworks cruise on the Gateway Clipper Queen from 7-10 p.m., with live music, food and drinks.
At 8 a.m. Sunday, June 23, a Historic Wheeling Bicycle Tour offers cyclists an itinerary stopping at 14 historic locations, beginning at the north end of Centre Market at 22nd Street. The tour is free and is sponsored by Friends of Wheeling, Ohio Valley Trail Partners and Bike Wheeling.
Olivia Litman, marketing director of the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), believes this festival is unlike anything she ever had the opportunity of attending as a little girl.
“As a person that has grown up in Wheeling, my childhood memories are different,” said Litman. “The Heritage Port didn’t exist, and weekend events of this caliber were unknown. Wheeling has an incredibly rich history. From a frontier outpost and a gateway to the West, to the birthplace of our state and an industrial powerhouse, Wheeling has had a tremendous impact on the history of our region, state and nation.”
The multi-day festival is made possible by Wheeling 250, Wheeling Heritage, the Wheeling Arts and Cultural Commission, the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau, Bill Brooks of the Ohio Valley Rib and Chicken Cook-Off, and local artists and historians contributing their time and talents.
Event sponsors include the City of Wheeling, Wheeling Island Hotel, Casino and Racetrack, Wheeling Nailers, The Health Plan, Main Street Bank, AEP, McKinley and Associates, Bordas & Bordas, Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration, WesBanco Arena and Visit Wheeling, West Virginia.
To learn more and for ticket information, visit the site’s homepage for further details.
If interested in taking a day cruise down the river visit this link:
For the exciting Fireworks Dinner Cruise visit this link: