New Weirton festival planning under way

PLANNING MEETING — A group of 12 volunteers gathered Tuesday to begin discussions on the new Gate 5 Industrial Art Festival, set to be held Oct. 20 at the Weirton Event Center. -- Craig Howell

WEIRTON — A new festival is beginning to take shape in Weirton, as plans for the Gate 5 Industrial Art Festival are under way.

A group of 12 volunteers met at the Weirton Municipal Building Tuesday to discuss ideas for the festival, which is slated to be held Oct. 20, with a focus on artwork created by using metal, clay, glass and repurposed scrap materials.

“It’s all going to tie back to the history of our area,” Event Chair Alecia Ford said.

Among the highlights being discussed is a proposed community improvement project at Gate 5, located on Main Street. The gate has been one of more than a dozen gates used by steelworkers in Weirton.

“It’s the most visible,” Mayor William Miller said, noting he has reached out to ArcelorMittal officials to see if such a project would be possible.

Other possible attractions include various vendors, artists and crafters, a manufacturing demonstration, an exhibit at the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center, a “Tin Man” run, a steam punk fashion show, a “Rosie the Riveter” strongarm contest and a selection of food trucks.

“There are little facets to bring in different crowds,” Ford said.

Michael Whalen, owner of Escape Works, suggested the possibility of a scavenger hunt through town.

Jaci Rice, a local artist, said she has worked with some metal artists in Pittsburgh who might be able to take part.

Ford explained there has been an increasing focus on the arts in the community, and a way to showcase the history of industry in the region can fit in with those efforts.

“It’s an art. It’s a skill,” Ford said, noting they would like to showcase established artists, as well as those who may be doing it only as a hobby.

The festival currently is slated to be held at the Weirton Event Center, and will be topped off with a performance by Strutter, a KISS cover band, and fireworks.

The committee, which continues to look for volunteers interested in working on the festival, is tentatively scheduled to meet next at 5:30 p.m., April 3.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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