Weirton celebrates its heritage with festival

TAPPING INTO A MAPLE TREE — Britney Farris, right, co-owner of Family Roots Farm, recruited Cash Ridgely, 6, of Wellsburg, to aid her in demonstrating how a tap is drilled into a maple tree to draw the sapwater from which maple syrup products are produced. Free tours of the Wellsburg farm were offered Saturday as part of West Virginia Maple Days. - Craig Howell

WEIRTON — It was a true melting pot of cultures at the Millsop Community Center Saturday, as the community celebrated the ninth-annual Festival of Nations.

Organized through the efforts of the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center, the yearly festival celebrates the heritage of the Upper Ohio Valley through the presentation of music, dancing, food and more, representing a variety of nations.

“This is one of the great celebrations of the year,” Mayor Harold Miller said, helping to kick off the festivities Saturday morning.

Throughout the day, performers from throughout the Tri-State Area demonstrated dances and performed songs from around the world.

Among those taking the stage were local singers Victoria Gerst and Sheena Chopra; the Sanskruti School of Indian Dance and Music; the Grecian Odyssey Dancers; Sofia-Teresa, Lucia and Valentina DiBacco; the Filipino American Association of Pittsburgh; Nandanik Dance Academy; Kyiv Ukrainian Dance Ensemble; D’Lustigen Isartaler; Yanlai Dance Academy; Tadashi Kato and David Morgan.

Dr. J.K. Luthra, chair of the festival committee, thanked the sponsors, as well as everyone in attendance and those who have supported the festival over the years, making sure it has been able to return year after year.

“Nothing you see here would be possible without your support and attendance,” Luthra said.

Saying he would like to see the festival continue to grow, especially for its 10th year in 2018, Luthra encouraged area residents to learn about, and celebrate, their cultural heritage and to teach others about the area’s history.

Museum President Dennis Jones noted students from Edison Local High School were in attendance, through the encouragement of their teacher Andrew Lesnansky as a way to get extra credit. Luthra said he would like to see other schools take a similar approach, using the festival as a way to teach local youth about different cultures.

In addition to the performances, attendees had the opportunity to sample food provided by Carter Bar B Que; Mount Olive Baptist Church; The D’Lustigen Isartaler; All Saints Greek Orthodox Church; Taj Mahal Restaurant; Regina Truax; the Filipino American Association of Pittsburgh; Bill Pendergrast; Jeffery Schuetz; and Nana’s Little Sweets.

A variety of informational displays were set up, allowing visitors to learn more about several countries.

Weirton Medical Center served as a major sponsor of this year’s festival.

(Howell can be contacted at, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT.)