Two of our local summer concert series got under way this past week, and it looks as if it will be a great few months of musical entertainment in the Weirton-Steubenville area.
Hundreds gathered Thursday at the Berkman Amphitheater in Steubenville, as well as the Weirton Event Center of Friday to spend time with family and friends, listen to some music and enjoy some of the not-so-hidden gems of our local communities.
These are great events and they continue to get bigger each year with new musical acts taking part and larger crowds showing up to check them out.
Many of our local communities have some type of summer concerts, whether it is a weekly series of events or simply a few activities spread throughout the warmer months.
A few even schedule them as part of special holiday celebrations, such as those planned during the week-long July 4 celebration in Wellsburg or the event in Weirton in observance of West Virginia's birthday.
Weirton's concerts are in their third year at the Event Center and continue to draw a variety of performers, both local and from throughout the region.
The crowds certainly are larger from the series' first year, with around 300 estimated to have been there Friday to listen to local singer/songwriter Pat Heiserman followed by the Easy Street Band.
Concerts are scheduled for pretty much every Friday through the end of August, with gates to the Event Center opening at 6 p.m., with performances beginning at 7 p.m.
This week will feature Picture Perfect, a group which performs a variety of tunes from many genres, as well as De Ja Vu, a local group performing some of the classics.
For those who might be interested in more than the music, there also will be a car cruise scheduled throughout Friday's concert.
Other groups set to appear include Jill West and Blues Attack, Roz and Lynn, The Davisson Brothers, Justin Fabus, Bone Daddy, Spinning Jenny, Beatlemania Magic (a Beatles tribute band which has been a huge hit locally in recent years) and the Joseph Sisters.
At the Louis and Sandra Berkman Amphitheater, attendees were treated to the a capella stylings of One-A-Chord and the classic tunes of the Vogues Thursday night.
The concerts at the Historic Fort Steuben also will feature a variety of acts this summer, with this week's acts to include a Jazz Night featuring Skip Peck and the Boilermaker Jazz Band.
These community concerts are just a few of the things on tap for this summer.
They are free, community events which provide a few hours of entertainment for all of our residents.
We often hear some of our residents say there is nothing to do locally, noting some of the downturns in the economy. However, if you are willing to look, you will see there is plenty to do and these concerts and other summer activities are just a few of them.
They are opportunities to get out, look around your town, spend time with family and friends, and maybe even meet some new people.
These are home-grown events, organized by local groups and individuals with the aim of providing a safe, secure event that is free to the community.
These are nice evenings and an opportunity to get away for a few hours, listen to some music and just enjoy ourselves.
I would encourage all of our residents, whether you live in Weirton, Steubenville or points to the north, south, east or west, to check into these concerts and other events going on in our communities.
Check them out, even if it means going to a different town or even crossing those state lines.
There is a lot to do in our area if residents only take the time to check it out.
I can guarantee the couple of hours will be worth it.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)