Weirton exhibit will reflect on hometown teams

WEIRTON – The Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center is planning to take area residents on a trip through the history of local athletics.

From Aug. 17 through Sept. 27, the local museum will be home to the latest Museum on Main Street exhibit, “Hometown Teams,” a project in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institution and the West Virginia Humanities Council.

The traveling exhibit celebrates the history of America’s sports, highlighting their impact on society and culture on individual communities and the nation as a whole.

Volunteers currently are developing local exhibits to accompany the established displays of “Hometown Teams.”

Each host community is encouraged to include items to highlight local sports programs, activities and athletes.

“There are all kinds of ideas floating around,” Weirton Museum President Dennis Jones explained, noting other sites have even included live games of marbles and bocce to get residents actively involved.

Local organizers are looking for donations of items to be included while the exhibit is in town, whether it be connected to youth sports leagues, high school athletics or an area native who has excelled in college or professional sports.

Those interested in donating or lending an item are asked to contact Jones at (304) 479-7266 or the museum at (304) 224-1909.

Displays on local championship teams, professional athletes and guest speakers are in the works, according to Jones.

Among the early donations is the Termite Auxiliary scrapbook, being contributed by Kathy Starr McDiffitt, whose parents, George and Virginia Starr, were involved in the early days of the Weirton Termites Association.

“The book consists of many, many photos, banquet programs and probably every newspaper article ever written on the organization in the early years,” McDiffitt said. “The many photos and articles cover baseball, basketball, majorettes, officers and their awards banquets.”

The Termites group was founded in January 1953 to provide area youth with opportunities to learn the basic fundamentals of various sports while also teaching good sportsmanship.

While the Weirton museum will be the home site during the local stop, organizers say they are hoping to be able to also have satellite events and displays at the museums in Hancock and Brooke counties, as well as possibly at local schools.

As part of the tour, the exhibit recently completed a stay in Parkersburg and currently is in Gilbert, W.Va.

Other Mountain State stops include Rowlesburg from May 11 through June 21; Elkins from June 29 through Aug. 9 and Morgantown from Oct. 5 through Nov. 15.