WEIRTON - Saturday's cooler temperatures didn't hurt turnout for the St. Thomas Episcopal Church Peach Festival and may have helped to bring out more people to what felt like a taste of the fall festival season.
The Rev. Gene Sheppard, the church's pastor, joked that while he and the congregation prayed that it wouldn't rain, they never thought snow would be a concern.
It wasn't cold enough for snow, but many were seen in jackets as they browsed through the church's white elephant sale and several craft and other booths in front of the church on Three Springs Drive.
A PEACHY TIME — Members of St. Thomas Episcopal Church and friends served up large peach shortcakes during the church’s annual Peach Festival Saturday in Weirton. They included, from front to back: John Bodonski, Cathy Spetek and Sandy Zanos.
Among the assortment of household items found at the white elephant sale was clothing of various sizes, priced at 25 cents each.
"I figured this could be part of our community outreach," said Cecelia Parrish, who chaired the event.
The church has shared proceeds from the festival with various charities over the years.
Beckie Patterson of Wellsburg, who was selling knitted hats for children and adults, said, "One lady bought a hat because she was cold."
Patterson said it was her first attempt at selling her hats at a festival and she was having a pleasant time.
There also were a variety of jewelry, purses and handbags, holiday decorations and other handmade items for sale.
"This is great. I come every year. They have a lot more different things this year," said Shirley Jones of Wellsburg.
Also new to the event was Kathy Snyder, who was selling cookbooks for the Weirton United Way. Snyder said the cookbook contains 350 recipes, including contributions from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and his wife, Joanne; as well as many local officials and residents.
Priced at $10, it also will be sold from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday at the organization's office on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Surveying the corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches and other produce brought by Jami Jodikinos Farm of Clinton, Pa., were Lucille Blehi of Slovan, Pa., and her friend, Wardie Bertoletti of Eldersville.
"I try to come every year. I enjoy the peach shortcake," said Blehi.
The festival has become known for its "giant" shortcakes, which consist of a slice of angel food cake topped with a generous serving of peaches and whipped cream and with a side helping of vanilla ice cream.
Members of the church, family and friends, including members of its two sister Episcopal churches in Brooke County, served up the treat as well as hot sausage sandwiches, cabbage rolls, haluski and other hot foods.
And the entranceway to the church was filled with a variety of baked goods.
Sam and Gladys Earnhardt of Salisbury, North Carolina, were among many surveying the treats.
A Weirton native, Gladys said the pair often have patronized the festival while visiting the area.
"We look forward to it. It's nice," she said.
Attendees also could purchase chances on a variety of gift baskets themed to appeal to sports fans, children and others. Drawings also were held for various prizes during the day.
Wendy Speer, a member of the church and past chairman of the event, said the festival has been held for 49 years.
She said the church itself has existed since 1947, opening on Mildren Avenue and later moving to its present site in 1969.
Speer plans to compile a book of photos depicting the church over the years.