Weirton celebrates its international culture

WEIRTON – It was a multi-cultural experience in Weirton Saturday as residents gathered at the Millsop Community Center for the fifth-annual Festival of Nations.

Close to a dozen nationalities were represented at this year’s festival, which included a variety of musical performances, dancing and food.

Dennis Jones, president of the Weirton Museum and Cultural Center, welcomed those in attendance, and thanked Dr. J.K. Luthra and the event committee for organizing the festival.

“It’s absolutely fabulous,” Mayor George Kondik said, noting the festival is a reflection of the multi-culturalism which helped to create Weirton. “It’s here in our great city. Everything is here for us to enjoy.”

Among the special guests at the festival was Gretchen Weir, wife of the late David M. Weir, who died last year. David was the son of E.T. and Mary H. Weir.

“He loved Weirton, and he liked to think he was part of the Weirton family,” she said of David.

Their daughter, Maisie, also was in attendance, making her third visit to the community which bears her family’s name.

She reflected on many of her father’s stories about his time in the community as a child, and said each time she is here she discovers more about why he enjoyed

Among those performing for this year’s festival were the Yan Lai Dance Academy of Pittsburgh, with traditional Chinese dances; Akshay Hari, of Pittsburgh, singing songs from India; Philippines-American Performing Arts of Greater Pittsburgh; Carrie Oliver-Shultz and Sheena Chopra, singing selections representing America; Kyiv Ukrainian Dance Ensemble of Carnegie, Pa., showcasing dances from Ukraine; Sofia-Teresa DiBacco and Lucia DiBacco, singing traditional Italian songs, and a performance by the Italian American Cultural Club Dancers of Steubenville; the Grecian Odyssey Dancers of East Pittsburgh; Nila Boyd, representing Scotland and playing the bagpipes; Kingdom Children of Steubenville; Tadashi Kato performing dances from Japan; and the Heritage Dance Association of Wheeling, which performed dances from the Civil War era in recognition of West Virginia’s 150th birthday this year.

Display tables also were on hand, showcasing the cultures of Greece, India, Italy, American Indians, Philippines, Poland and the state of West Virginia.

(Howell can be contacted at, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)