Festival fun

Photo by Brett Dunlap Cat Bigley and Dean Grant, of Marietta, danced to the band Back Porch Alibi on Sunday during the Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival at City Park.

PARKERSBURG — Good weather brought out a lot of people throughout the weekend for the 24th annual Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival at City Park in Parkersburg.

With rain having dominated a lot of time in recent weeks, organizers were thankful for a weekend of sunny conditions and good temperatures.

The annual festival saw thousands of people come to City Park who had the chance to partake in different foods, fun, entertainment and a variety of activities rooted in different cultures from around the world.

“We have had a lot of people out this weekend,” said Jessica Duckworth, vendor coordinator and past president for the festival. “It was a big crowd with a lot of new vendors this year.”

There were 82 vendors and presenters throughout the festival.

Vendor Arnold Lees, of Youngstown, Ohio, has been to just about every Multi-Cultural Festival. He and his wife, Herminia, sell items they make based off the culture of her native Peru.

Organizers said at one of the first Multi-Cultural Festivals, the Lees had to have their trailer towed to the park in order for them to be able to set up.

Lee said he and his wife always like coming to this festival because of the way organizers treat the vendors, taking care of their needs and more. He compared it to a number of Native American Pow Wows they attend annually.

“They treat us right here,” Lees said of why they keep coming back. “They always ask us for our opinion on anything we think needs to be changed.

“We like that.”

Vendor John McCrady, of TJ Leather of Parkersburg, has been to the festival a number of years.

“Its hot, but we have had a good time here,” he said. “It is the last show we do in Parkersburg.

“All of our other shows are out of town somewhere. So we do this one to stay home and have a good time.”

This is the first time Four Bears Trading of Greensboro, N.C., has been to the Multi-Cultural Festival. They sell authentic handmade Native American jewelry and other works from around 30 tribes across the United States and around 250 artists, said owner Todd DePriest who is part of the Cheroenhaka Nottoway tribe of Virginia. His tribal name is “Four Bears” due to encounters he had with a number of bears.

“(The organizers) thought it would be a good fit,” he said adding this was their first time coming to West Virginia. “We pride ourselves in carrying things no one else would have.”

DePriest and his wife, Linda, do several of the Pow Wows during this time of year. Due to family commitments, they had to rearrange their schedule and they had a couple of open weekends. They were able to get in on a Pow Wow event in Cadiz, Ohio, in Harrison County last weekend. They looked for other events they could come to and found the Multi-Cultural Festival in Parkersburg.

Four Bears Trading offers a variety of rings, necklaces, pottery, rattles, handbags, medicine bags, flutes, skulls, hand-carved items, paintings and more. DePriest admits that some of the things they have can be expensive, but he feels that if people can touch the jewelry and see the quality they might see the price is reasonable.

They had been busy throughout the weekend. Although they had a number of people who didn’t buy anything, they enjoyed talking with visitors.

“We feel that our job is to educate people,” DePriest said. “We like to talk to people.”

They have a turtle shell they use to educate people what the blocks on a shell mean, how someone can determine how old a turtle is and more. People also ask questions about the artists who produce the things they sell.

DePriest was complementary of the crowds at the festival with people asking to touch certain items before doing it and saying “please” and “may I” and more

“We have had a ball,” he said. “These are some of the nicest people we have been around.”

Given the chance in the future, DePriest said he would return to the Multi-Cultural Festival if it can be worked out.

“It has been super and we have really enjoyed it,” he said.

Many people like what was being offered throughout the festival this year, Duckworth said.

“We have had a lot of compliments from people,” she said. “There was definitely a possibility of rain, but it cleared off and it has been a good weekend.

“We do believe the (attendance) numbers are up this weekend from past festivals.”

Many people commented that they had to really look around the park to find a parking spot.

“That is a good problem to have,” Duckworth said.

Many people commented to her about the variety of offerings

“A lot of people have come up to me and told me there was so much to do and to see,” Duckworth said. “People have told me about all they have been able to do and to see for the first time as well as to meet new people.

“That is why I think this festival is a cool thing for this area.”

Rhonda and David Gusky, of Parkersburg, were surprised by the number of people at the park for this year’s festival.

“It is exciting,” Rhonda said.

David believes something has changed with the festival over the years.

“When we first came eight or nine years ago they had a few rows of vendors and concessions,” he said. “Now there is so much more.

“We drove by yesterday and we wondered where everyone came from.”

Rhonda said as a result they brought their chairs Sunday so they could sit out and take in all the music and be able to go around and look at all that was available.

“We didn’t expect all of this,” she said. “There are a lot of nice vendors here.

“Everything is impressive.”