Festival Focus Is Arts, Culture, Music and More

Art, music, poetry, games, classes, dance, artisans and much more await those who venture to Wheeling Heritage Port Friday, June 15, and Saturday, June 16, for the Wheeling Arts & Culture Fest.

The festival is set for 2-10 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.

In January of 2016, the City of Wheeling Arts and Cultural Commission voted to partner with the YWCA Wheeling to merge the organizations’ separate events into a two-day summer festival. Hosting the event at Heritage Port allowed for expansion, including a larger Artist Market and more performances. The 2018 performance lineup has over 12 bands and includes an eclectic mix of genres.

“We are really excited about this year’s programming. Squonk Opera was a hit two years ago, and we know their performance will again be one worth coming out for. We are looking forward to the lineup of programming and music and are hoping that the adjusted hours are more convenient for the wider public,” said Sarah Clark, marketing volunteer for the festival.

At the Artist Market, look for artisans selling pottery, jewelry, creative towels, paintings, photography and more. The following artists will be selling their wares: Larry Schneider, Adam Bedway and Beth Patsch, Eric Price, Robert Martin, Robert Sako, June Caldwell, Linda S. Gribko, Joshua Bommer, Brent A. Nixon, Hillary Linzy, Dave Rinkes, Amanda Carney, Scott Hanson, Linden Mueller, Erica Tamburo, Josh Bommer and Mindy Sears, Charles Kraft, Kelly Littleton and Elizabeth James, Monica Mull and Clyde Mull, Stacy Pearson, Mindi Yarbrough, Aimee Thorne, Eddie Maier.

Let’s not forget the art of the written word. The Ohio Valley Writers will have books and readings by local authors at their booth, where members will be on hand to raise awareness about what the organization does. Also, Weelunk’s haiku contest winners’ works will be on display.

At 6:30 p.m. Saturday, festival coordinators will present the sixth annual Harshman Distinguished Artist Award, which recognizes an individual or individuals who have excelled in the arts and contributed to furthering the arts in Ohio County.

Throughout both days, there will be opportunities for children and adults to create screen printing, make pop art buttons, decorate rocks for The Kindness Rocks Project and create other art projects. See 50 musical instruments from around the world or have your name translated into different languages.

For more information, visit wheelingartsfest.com or the Wheeling Arts and Cultural Commission Facebook page.



Friday, June 15

2:15 p.m.: Matt & Scotty from the Trainjumpers

3:30 pm: New Age Adenas

5 p.m.: Bill Gorby & the Musical Mercenaries

6 p.m.: Steel Dragon

7 p.m.: End Men

8:30 p.m.: Billy the Kid and the Regulators


Saturday, June 16

11:30 a.m.: Flow Band

12:30 p.m.: Squonk Opera

2 p.m.: Chris Kusky

3 p.m.: Squonk Opera

4:30 p.m.: Mahajibee Blues

5:30 p.m.: Squonk Opera

7 p.m.: Krunk

8:30 p.m.: Wheeling Park Bluegrass Band

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About the music guests:

Squonk Opera is a group of interdisciplinary performing artists from Pittsburgh. Led by artistic directors Jackie Dempsey and Steve O’Hearn, Squonk Opera formed in 1992 and has created 13 shows. Squonk Opera has been touring internationally since 2003 — to Scotland, Belgium, Germany and twice to South Korea, where they opened both the Busan International Performing Arts Festival and the World Music Theater Festival. Squonk Opera’s shows consist of music, visual art and acting elements in an attempt to make a form of opera accessible to all people. The group likes “to think of ourselves as a wacky, provincial opera company,” said Dempsey, who named the group “Squonk” after a description of a jazz saxophonist’s playing as a “squonk-fest,” rather than the legendary creature of the same name.

Matt Heusel and Scotty Harkness are longtime members of Wheeling’s roots, rock and reggae pioneers The Trainjumpers. The group has put out three albums of original music and is currently in the studio preparing a new release scheduled for late summer. The band’s new single, “Last Train to Charlottesville” can be heard on its website at www.thetrainjumpers.com.

Bill Gorby & the Musical Mercenaries perform an eclectic array of American music with roots in folk, bluegrass, old-time country music with a diverse mix of traditional, classic and modern music. The band boasts a strong focus on three-part harmonies while featuring the instrumental talents of Bill Gorby, Buck Allemond and Jim Simpson.

Annihilating stages from Bushwick to Berlin since 2010, the End Men is captivating combination of monster riffs, utterly unique drumming and sideshow abandon.

Billy the Kid and the Regulators is a high-powered, guitar-driven, rhythm and blues band based in Pittsburgh. Lead singer Billy Evanochko is known across the Steel City for his impassioned lyrics, seductive vocals and stinging guitar riffs. The band attracts fans with its fresh mix and interpretation of the iconic R&B experience.

The Flow Band, a reggae dance band based in Pittsburgh, was formed in the 1980s and has a legendary history of fusing neo-soul rhythms over tropical world beats, pioneering an uplifting celebration for the future of reggae-influenced music. The Flow Band has opened for Jimmy Buffet and has earned over 15 awards, including Best Local Reggae Artists and Performance Band of the Year.

Mahajibee is a nonsense word. It’s a word you use when the word you want to use just isn’t coming to mind. It’s also the name of a no-nonsense blues band out of Pittsburgh. Mahajibee Blues has been bringing its brand of hard-working blues since 2000, and the band will bring it to this year’s festival.

The Krunk Movement is a youth “micro-enterprise” and production company in which students in grades 9-12 learn the professionalism required to succeed in the music industry as well as the financial skills necessary to manage their own careers. Students utilize their skill and interest in songwriting, beat-making, production, technology and dance to convey positive messages about mental and physical health to their peers.

The New Age Adenas play adult alternative, classic rock and alternative country. Band members are Eric Wellman guitar and vocals; Mary Blake, vocals, guitar, hand percussion; and Greg Pawlack, mandolin and vocals.

Chris Kuskey calls his sound “arena jazz,” best described musically as a mix between Charlie Parker and Eddie Van Halen and lyrically described as a melodic Jack Kerouac novel.