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Rotary hears of Festival of Nations

August 11, 2012
By ANGELINA DICKSON - Staff writer , Weirton Daily Times

WEIRTON - As the Festival of Nations approaches, committee members are doing what they can to promote the festival and inform the public as to what the event has to offer.

The fourth annual Festival of Nations is set to take place on Aug. 18 at the Weirton Event Center from noon to 6 p.m. with no admission charge for the public.

Chairman Dr. J.K. Luthra gave the members of the Weirton Heights Rotary Club a history lesson on how the festival came to be. He said the festival began in the 30s and 40s when the economy was down. He said Weirton Steel took steps to recognize the different ethnic groups living in the city and working at the mill.

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Angelina Dickson
The Weirton Heights Rotary Club heard from the Festival of Nations Committee members about the upcoming event. Despina Melonas talked to the members about the different nationalities performing as well as food vendors. The festival is set for Aug. 18 from noon to 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Luthra said original celebrations brought out between 10,000 and 20,000 people. Now, the festival draws several thousand people from all over the Valley after its revival in 2009 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Weirton.

"We've had many people come to us who remember participating in the festival when they were younger or remember going to the festival, and they're glad to see it return," said Luthra.

Luthra said there have been three successful events indoors at the Millsop Community Center and this year the committee is hoping for a successful year outdoors at the Weirton Event Center. He said the Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau will be helping defray the cost of the performers and allowing the use of the facility.

During the Rotary Club meeting, festival committee member Despina Melonas discussed the different performers and food vendors that will be available. She said there will be representations of American Frontier and countries including India, the Phillipines, Germany, Greece, Africa, Italy, Russia, Serbia, China, Ireland and Vietnam through the ethnic foods, music, displays and other entertainment.

"There will be something of interest for everyone in the family," she said. "We're going to have plenty of food and entertainment throughout the day and it's not going to just draw people from Weirton but from Ohio and Pennsylvania and further."

Melonas said attendees will have the choice of bringing their own chairs, but there will be some seating under tents available during the event as well.

The line up for the festival includes a Parade of Nations, opening ceremonies and comments from Mayor George Kondik and festival committee members, performances from the Tri-State Young Marines, Carrie Oliver, Sheena Chopra, a Philippino dance group, Indian Dance, Irish dances, the Black Slanley Band, Victoria Gerst, German dances, Kingdom Children, square dances by Mountain Express Band of Beallsville, Ohio, Theresa DiBacco, Greek dance group and Mary Leah Clark and Bill Clark singing gospel.

"If there are any open spaces in entertainment, then I will sing," added Luthra.

Some of the vendors represented will be Caleodis with Greek food and sausages, Gus's Goodies, India-Taj Mahal Restaurant, Ma and Pa Kettle Corn, Mount Olive Church, Philoptochos, Philppines, Serbian American Cultural Center, St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, Huu Do Vietnamese food and water and beverages from the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center.

Display tables will include American Jewelry by Diane Camilletti, India, magician Nick Gallias, Daughters of American Revolution, Boys Scout Troupe No. 334, Greece, Native Americans, Italy, Poland, Philippines and Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center.

There will be free parking at the Millsop Community Center and the West Virginia State Building with free shuttle service from the parking lot to the Weirton Event Center.

(Dickson can be contacted at

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