Celebrate Juneteenth Across the Ohio Valley This Weekend

The Ohio Valley is abuzz with anticipation as organizers gear up for a weekend of lively and inspiring Juneteenth celebrations. This year, the region is pulling out all the stops to commemorate the historical milestone of African American emancipation and embrace the spirit of unity, resilience, and progress. Find out what activities and events are on this year’s lineup and mark your calendars for a memorable weekend:

Friday, June 16

The weekend will begin with two events hosted by local community organizations. First up is the Ohio Valley Underground Railroad Museum’s inaugural celebration and fundraiser. The evening will include ‘A Taste of Africa,’ art exhibit, presentation, and historical re-enactment. The event will also feature a DJ, cash bar, and basket raffle. This fundraiser will be held from 5 – 8 p.m. at the Wheeling Artisan Center. Tickets are $25 per person, with all proceeds benefitting the Ohio Valley Underground Railroad Museum. Purchase a ticket and learn more here

On the other side of the river, the Belmont County NAACP is hosting its annual steak fry fundraiser to help create a new college scholarship program for local students. This event will kick off at 5:30 p.m. at the St. Clairsville Memorial Park Rotary Shelter (200 Walnut Ave,). Belmont County Common Pleas Court Judge John Vavra will serve as the guest speaker. Unlike traditional steak fry events, all food is prepared by Outback Steakhouse. Additionally, all dinnerware and cutlery will be provided. Tickets are $25 if purchased in advance by calling 740-310-6894. Tickets on the night of the event are $30. Learn more here

Saturday, June 17

On Saturday, the Men of Change will host a free community vendor and resource fair at The Plaza on Market from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. This fair will provide the opportunity for community members to learn about and connect with various resources, social services, and educational institutions, businesses, and more.

Men of Change is a group of leaders from the Wheeling Black community who are working towards a common goal of empowering, uplifting, and educating our community while serving as positive role models and a support system for young Black men. Learn more about Men of Change here

Sunday, June 18

Treat Dad to an evening movie on Sunday at Towngate Theatre with a screening of “The Five Heartbeats.” Towngate Theatre is hosting this special event as a part of Wheeling’s 2023 Juneteenth Celebration.

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Coming in on the tail end of a rhythm and blues singing group explosion in 1960s, “The Five Heartbeats” (Robert Townsend, Michael Wright, Leon, Harry J. Lennix, Tico Wells) rise and fall within the space of seven years. Townsend co-wrote and starred in this amazing story of a fictional black male quintet. After researching a real group, the Dells, he brilliantly depicted the typical issues that most black groups confronted in pre-Civil Rights America.

Admission is $5, or free if you come dressed as a character from the film or in clothing from the time period of the movie. The film will begin at 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 18. Doors open at 5 p.m. Learn more here

Monday, June 19

The Wheeling Juneteenth Committee is proud to present the 2023 Wheeling Juneteenth Celebration this Monday at The Plaza on Market. Join them as the community comes together to honor and celebrate African American history, music, faith, family, and freedom!

The event will begin at 6 p.m. with a short ceremony at the north end of the Plaza. Guest speakers include Diana Bell of the Wheeling Griot Society, Darryl Clausell of the West Virginia and Wheeling NAACP, Unique Robinson-Murphy, Mayor Glenn Elliott, and Rev. Twila Davis of the Macedonia Baptist Church. After the ceremony, music, entertainment and food trucks will follow at the south end of the Plaza. Music will be provided by Voices of Praise and Morgantown, WV-based soul and funk band, Soul Pantry. The event is free and open to the public.

2022 Juneteenth Speakers (from left), Jerry Moore Jr., Belmont Co. NAACP; Darryl Clausell, West Virginia NAACP; Dr. Monique Akassi, West Liberty University; Rev. Twila Davis, Macedonia Baptist Church; Ron Scott Jr., Wheeling YWCA and Wheeling Juneteenth Committee Chair.

The Wheeling Area Juneteenth Celebration promises a weekend of unity, education, and celebration as the community comes together to honor the significance of Juneteenth. From engaging programs to vibrant musical performances, this whole weekend is a testament to the resilience, culture, and heritage of the African American community. By embracing the spirit of freedom and unity, the celebration aims to create a space where everyone can learn, connect, and appreciate the rich diversity that makes Wheeling the Friendly City for all.

Learn more about the 2023 Juneteenth Celebration Weekend by visiting WheelingJuneteenth.com.