WEIRTON - The sounds, tastes and smells of a variety of cultures could be experienced at the Millsop Community Center Saturday as part of the sixth-annual Festival of Nations.
The event, held by the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center, brought hundreds of area residents to downtown Weirton to sample several foods from around the world, listen to many types of music and watch numerous dances representing more than a dozen nationalities.
"Professional level artists have come to perform from Pittsburgh, Wheeling, Martins Ferry, Rayland, Colerain, St. Clairsville, Steubenville, Mingo Junction, New Cumberland, Wellsburg and of course, our own Weirton," Dr. J.K. Luthra, chairman of the festival committee, explained.
The Festival of Nations originally took place in Weirton in the 1940s, but returned in 2009 as part of observances of the 100th anniversary of Weirton's founding.
According to Luthra, more than 20 nationalities and organizations were represented during this year's festival.
Among those performing were the Kyiv Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, Yanlai Dance Academy, Nandanik Dance Academy, Grecian Odyssey Dancers, Victoria Gerst, St. Joseph the Worker School Choir, Sneha Gupta, the Philippine American Performing Arts of Greater Pittsburgh, the Filipino American Association of Pittsburgh, the Oglebay Institute Youth Folk Dancers, Sheena Chopra, Nila Boyd, Italian American Cultural Club, Oglebay Institute Promenaders and Tom Zielinsky.
The Kyiv Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, from Carnegie, Pa., helped to kick off the performances Saturday at the Festival of Nations, dancing through several routines to showcase some of the traditions of the people of Ukraine. -- Craig Howell
The Grecian Odyssey Dancers performed a variety of traditional dances from the Greek islands as part of the celebrations Saturday. The group from Pittsburgh has been a part of the Festival of Nations for the last several years. -- Craig Howell
Food ranged from American soul food to Greek, Indian, Italian, and much more, with informational tables on China, Poland, American Indians and others.
Weirton Mayor George Kondik also took a moment to thank the museum for organizing the festival.
Kondik noted the area has always had a rich cultural diversity, and while technology, clothing and other things may be different now, that diversity has always been something that tied the community together.
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"Our nationalities and the great spirit we have in Weirton have not changed," Kondik said.
(Howell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)