Heritage Port Sternwheel Festival begins

WEEKEND FESTIVAL — Wheeling’s waterfront will be filling up with plenty of boats over the next few days as the 18th-annual Heritage Port Sternwheel Festival gets underway Thursday. -- Scott McClosky

WHEELING — With the three-day annual Heritage Port Sternwheel Festival beginning today, there will be something for the entire family, according to festival Chairwoman Diane Jordan.

In addition to viewing about a half dozen sternwheel vessels docked at the waterfront, visitors can expect to see live musical entertainment, food vendors, a children’s area (which will include inflatables), fireworks displays on Friday and Saturday and a visit from a Gateway Clipper Fleet vessel on Friday.

Expected to be docked near the main stage area, the Gateway Clipper will be offering rides (for a fee) at 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and on a sold-out dinner cruise scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.

“We are excited to have them here,” Jordan said.

She said the the Gateway Clipper is expected to dock at Heritage Port before the 9:30 p.m. fireworks display Friday. The Friday night fireworks are being put on by the Wheeling 250 Celebration.

“A new treat this year is there are fireworks two nights (Friday and Saturday),” Jordan added.

“It is very much a family event. There is something for everybody,” Jordan added.

She said work crews have been busy this week installing water lines for food vendors and electrical hook-ups for visiting boats. She said the entertainment momentum is expected to build throughout each day of the festival.

Frank O’Brien, executive director of the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Gateway Clipper was invited to be part of a Wheeling 250 Celebration event earlier, but weather prohibited the vessel from coming to Wheeling.