Festival a nightly cleaning endeavor

WHEELING – Armed with neon orange paint and a map, Operations Superintendent Tim Birch sprayed numbers on Water Street to correspond with the nearly 100 vendors that will set up shop this week for the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival.

The festival begins at noon Friday and runs through Sunday at Heritage Port.

Birch was accompanied Tuesday by city engineers Mike Stahl and Carl Wilson, who created the map that showed where to mark the vendor booths on Water Street and at the port as well.

They weren’t the only ones at the venue – city workers were busy cutting the grass, trimming trees, cleaning sidewalks with a water-spraying truck and installing waterlines for food vendors. Electrician Don Villanova also installed electric service boxes along the street.

”There are over 90 vendors – that’s not including rides,” Birch said.

Work conducted by the city doesn’t stop at preparing for the festival. Each night a crew of eight employees cleans up the dropped food, drinks and trash left not only on Water Street and at the port, but the entire downtown as well. Trash is pushed into the streets and picked up by a sweeper truck. Then a vehicle, known as an inductor truck, sprays down the streets with water. The work begins about midnight and takes about six hours each night.

”It’s pretty messy after everyone leaves,” Birch said.

And during the event, trash cleanup is conducted as well.

”Trash can make or break a festival,” Birch said, adding if garbage builds up it can attract bees that can sting people.

Birch noted the Italian Festival is the largest festival hosted at the port and takes the most manpower to keep up with the amount of trash it creates. Next in line, cleaning-wise, would be the Sternwheel Festival held each September, he added.