Showcasing one of the city’s largest immigrant communities, Wheeling Heritage will host its 23rd annual Wheeling Celtic Celebration from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at the Wheeling Artisan Center, 1400 Main St., Wheeling.
“What’s special about this event is that while it celebrates the past and cultural traditions, the Celtic Celebration has become a tradition for current resident,” said Jake Dougherty, Wheeling Heritage’s executive director.
“Wheeling Heritage hosts the Celtic Celebration to showcase the traditions of one of Wheeling’s largest immigrant communities. Celtic immigrants built and shaped Wheeling, and their descendants continue their legacy today. This is a way to celebrate the impact and legacy of immigration in our city,” he added.
“Started in 1996 by Wheeling Heritage and the Wheeling Celtic Society to celebrate the Ohio Valley’s rich Celtic heritage, the Wheeling Celtic Celebration is a continued annual tradition. Irish came to West Virginia in the early and mid-19th century and were instrumental in building railroads, canals and roads, according to local historian, Margaret Brennan,” said Chris Villamagna, Wheeling Heritage program manager.
“While Ireland is the sovereign nation, our event celebrates the entire Celtic Nations including Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Brittany and Galicia as well. The event is a time to celebrate Celtic culture and heritage and a time to gather with family and friends,” she said.
Villamagna noted that the festival sees about 2,000 attendees each year.
This year, the Artisan Center’s three floors will be filled with Celtic music, dancers, vendors, culture and traditional food offerings. A children’s activity area, presented by the Children’s Museum of the Ohio Valley, will take place on the second floor from noon to 4 p.m.
The Celtic Marketplace, on the second and third floors, will feature a selection of Celtic merchandise including clothing, pub shirts, glasses and signs, jewelry, photography, honey mead wines and much more.
Members of Gallowglass will be set up on the second floor to provide educational information and cultural presentations on various Celtic instruments and practices.
River City Restaurant will be open to offer their regular menu selections on the first floor, and will offer ethnic food selections on the third floor, including Scotch eggs, colcannon and other Celtic delicacies, as well as imported and domestic beers.
This year’s entertainment will include returning favorites such as The Macdonald Pipe Band of Pittsburgh, the Burke Conroy School of Irish Dance, Brigid’s Cross, Wheeling’s Gallowglass and Terry Griffith.
The Celtic Celebration will end with a performance by Pittsburgh’s The Wild Geese. The six-piece group features old-school Irish pub music, as well as high-energy original pieces. This is their first Wheeling Celtic Celebration appearance.
Admission is $7 per person. Children 12 and under are admitted for free.
The event is sponsored by the Wheeling Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Ohio County Commission, the WALS Foundation, Altmeyer Funeral Homes, Felton CPA, Main Street Bank, Raymond James Financial — Chris Freeman CFP, Wheeling Ancient Order of Hibernians, Fahey-Leavitt Insurance Agency, and the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture & History.
For more information, call the Wheeling Heritage at 304-232-3087 or visit wheelingheritage.org.
TENTATIVE ENTERTAINMENT SCHEDULE:
11-11:45 a.m.: Matt Smith
Noon-1 p.m.: Macdonald Pipe Band of Pittsburgh
1:15-2 p.m.: Burke Conroy School of Irish Dance
2:15-3 p.m.: Gallowglass
3:30-4:30 p.m.: Terry Griffith
4:45-5:30 p.m.: Rich Patrick
6-7:30 p.m.: Brigid’s Cross
8-9 p.m.: Mike Gallagher
9:30-11 p.m.: The Wild Geese
• Alex Weld is the project and outreach manager for Wheeling Heritage. A resident of Wellsburg, W.Va., Alex graduated from West Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in business administration, and she earned her master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from WVU’s Reed College of Media. She is a former social media specialist for The Health Plan, a former reporter and news producer for WTOV-TV in Steubenville, and former communications specialist for Bethany College.