New local festival offers music, antiques, food

HALF HILLS FESTIVAL — The Joe Zelek Band brought its country sound to the Half Hills Music Festival on Third Street in Steubenville Saturday. The band is among 15 musical acts of various styles appearing at the new event, which offers a mix of music, art, food and activities. It continues from noon into the early evening today at Third Street and Historic Fort Steuben’s Louis Berkman Amphitheatre.

STEUBENVILLE — A variety of musical groups, local artists and others have converged at Historic Fort Steuben and two local businesses this weekend for a new event aimed at renewing interest in the downtown area.

The Half Hills Music Festival continues today with free music at Historic Fort Steuben’s Louis Berkman Amphitheater or a stage on the adjacent Third Street by John Paul von Arx at noon, The Collection at 1 p.m., Ben-David Warner at 2 pm., the Boilermaker Jazz Band at 3 pm., Kevin Heider at 4 p.m., The Stapletons at 5 pm., Six-String Soldiers at 6 p.m. and Dear Other at 7 p.m.

With groups from various parts of the Tri-State Area and as far as Rockford, Ill. and Greensboro, N.C., the festival offer a mix of musical styles, from indie rock and country to sounds inspired by folk and Celtic culture.

Through the efforts of the Harmonium Project, the event also includes local artists displaying or selling their creations, antiques, classic record albums and food for sale, face painting and opportunities for a leisurely corn hole game or to add a chalk drawing to the sidewalk leading to the fort’s visitors center.

The festival is the latest of a series of family friendly events aimed at promoting the arts and drawing more visitors to Steubenville, said Marc Barnes, a leader of a grassroots group called the Harmonium Project.

He and his wife, Maura, said it was inspired by the Appaloosa Festival, an event in Front Royal,Va. organized by her brother, Terry McKeegan, that has drawn 750 to 1,000 people in its three years.

The Harmonium Project’s other efforts have included last year’s theatrical production of “The Terrible Time Machine of Eloise Mortfellow,” a musical written by Barnes and involving about 70 local youth on stage and behind the scenes.

And the group hopes to hold a series of winter concerts at a location to be announced.

It’s also raising funds to replace the roof of a former hair salon on South Fourth Street donated to the group for use as its base of operations.

Barnes expressed thanks to the many businesses and groups that supported the event.

He said through participation and sponsorship, “A lot of local businesses really came together to make this work.”

Barnes also thanked city officials for permitting use of a section of Third Street and leaders of Historic Fort Steuben for use of the amphitheater and its grounds.

Judy Bratten, the fort’s executive director; and Jerry Barilla, president of the fort’s board; said while the festival isn’t a fort event, they applaud the group’s efforts.

“We’re very pleased the young people of our community are stepping up to celebrate all the good things we have,” Bratten said.

Members of the Steubenville Art Association were on hand to display a variety of paintings, sketches and other art produced by the group, which meets at the fort’s visitors center at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month.

Larry Straney a member of the group, also offered sketches of attendees.

Jeanne D’Anniballe, the association’s president, said the group will be holding a two-week fall art show beginning Oct. 23 at Eastern Gateway Community College and its annual Christmas show from Nov. 13 to Dec. 8 at the college.

Fellow member Francesca Veltri said the arts can be a big draw for a community.

“The arts really can revitalize an area, whether it’s performing or visual arts,” she said.

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