Thousands turn out for the Steubenville Homecoming Celebration at Fort Steuben

UNDER THE HOOD — Mike Dowdel and Karrie O’Connell, both of Jewett, check out a 1973 Mustang at the car show during Saturday’s Steubenville Hometown Celebration on North Third Street.

STEUBENVILLE — City Mayor Jerry Barilla was beaming on Saturday as thousands of people came down to the Steubenville Homecoming Celebration at Historic Fort Steuben.

“This is another example of families coming downtown for fun,” he said.

There were a variety of events at the celebration, including the Dino 5K run and walk; classic car cruise in; trolley tours and miniature train rides; food and craft vendors; children activities; tours of the Grand Theater; tours of the Jefferson County Historical Society Museum, and concerts at the amphitheater.

Barilla said the Greek festival, Dean Martin events at the Spot Bar, the hometown celebration and events by the Steubenville Harmonium Project on North Fourth Street all brought people to the downtown area during the past several days.

“Everyone talks about there is nothing to do in Steubenville. This is an example of what to do in Steubenville. We are desperately trying to revitalize the city and make it family fun. I am thrilled at the turnout for the Greek festival, Spot Bar and the Harmonium Project. We are constantly trying to have activities to draw people downtown to eat, frequent shops and enjoy the history at the fort,” Barilla said.

“I am honored to be the mayor and witness it happening. That is our intent to make it a better place and improve the quality of life,” said Barilla, who also is the president of the Old Fort Steuben Project.

Paul Zuros, operations director at the Old Fort Steuben Project said the turnout at the homecoming celebration was incredible.

“It is a wonderful event. It is so cool to see the people coming out and enjoying the day,” he said.

Joyce Moody of Steubenville said it was wonderful to have an event for families and children. She brought her 5-year-old granddaughter, Ivy Bates of Streetsboro, down to the event.

“Kids can come down and do things. It is really good. Steubenville is starting to get really good with events, such as the Nutcrackers. I brought (her granddaughter) in for the weekend. We enjoyed it last year. It is so much better at the fort” she said.

Mary Snyder, who works at the fort visitors center and organized much of the event, said she placed on emphasis on family activities. She said the local kids, especially those downtown, can come in and enjoy the festival for free.

“It is local. You don’t need a car if you live downtown. We try to make it family friendly,” she said.

Theresa Deller of Steubenville brought her three kids to the celebration, where they were entertained by the Amazing Nick, also known as Nick Gallias of Weirton, who made animals for the kids out of balloons.

“It has been great and they (her children) have really enjoyed it. It has been great to have something to take them to every weekend,” she said.

Scott Dressel, president of the Grand Theater Restoration Project, offered tours of the theater on South Fourth Street as a fundraiser. The 20-minute tour cost $5.

Dressel said about one quarter of the restoration work is complete. He said he is working on grants and state funding to do more work.

The dome at the roof of the theater is about 20 percent complete in its restoration of plaster work. The restoration committee is working on getting an elevator installed to take people up to two ballrooms planned for on the second floor. The original organ for the theater is almost restored. A second organ is planned for the ballrooms, he said.

The pipes for the original organ are installed but there are still thousands of electrical connections needed to be made on the console.

The Steubenville Harmonium Project uses the theater on First Fridays to host improv theater, Dressel said. He said there are hundreds of people who attend the improv performances in the lobby.

But Dressel noted there is still about $3.5 million in work remaining on the building.