Summer Festivals You Don’t Want to Miss in Marion County
Here it comes, summer 2013 in Marion County, West Virginia! Not only does this time of year bring gorgeous weather and the reopening of some of your favorite attractions, but we also have some great festivals to look forward to.
Marion County is home to five annually awesome summer festivals:
- WV Three Rivers Festival, May 23-25
- The Johnnie Johnson Blues & Jazz Festival, July 5-7
- Heston Arts & Music Festival, July 13-14
- Paw Paw District Fair, July 23-27
- Mannington District Fair, August 5-10
WV Three Rivers Festival
To begin the summer, the Three Rivers Festival at Palatine Park has remained a part of Marion County summers for thirty-three years. The festival is the platform for various pageants kicked off by a county-involved parade. The wild and wonderful attraction (emphasis on wild) is the annual carnival and rides.
True to its West Virginian roots, the festival will host an amateur and a professional pepperoni roll bake-off. This year will see the third annual professional pepperoni roll eating contest. This will decide the new pepperoni roll eating champion of the world!
Johnnie Johnson Blues & Jazz Festival
A much younger and contemporary festival in Marion County is the Johnnie Johnson Blues & Jazz Festival in Palatine Park. Although it is only eleven years old, it has a strong tradition for those who come to participate.
Considered the Father of Rock ‘n Roll, Johnnie Johnson is the most fitting namesake for this festival as he was born in Fairmont in 1924. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
The festival honors this Marion County native and what he devoted his life to: jazz, blues, and rock n’ roll. In past festivals, various bands from the area, as well as New York, Texas, and Illinois, have come to pay tribute to the legend and his homeland. Artists such as Paul Geremia, Roddy Barnes, and Gypsy Davies have shared their take on Johnson’s favorite genres.
Find out who comes to show their respect for the original rock n’ roll idol! We’ll see you there!
Heston Arts & Music Festival
An even younger festival, in just its second year in Marion County, is the Heston Arts & Music (HAM) Festival at Heston Farm.
This festival showcases artists and bands from West Virginia and the surrounding states. The performances are not restricted to one genre, but cross over many kinds of music in various ages.
- The Masons, classic rock
- Larry Rogers, classic country
- Intent, rock n’ roll
- Matt Thomas, country
Vendors are also a part of this now annual festival, and they come from all over to present their original products. This means that any product you see at the festival is not imported, but is made by the very seller. These products are not mass-produced, but are individually made for you!
Paw Paw Fair
Right in the middle of summer is the Paw Paw District Fair in Rivesville, WV. It has been a tough, muddy extra to Marion County summers since 1946. The fair traditionally hosts all kinds of mudboggin, automotive pullins, and Paw Paw pageants. And of course, what’s a fair without rides and music? This year the fair will feature The New Silver Eagle Band.
Mannington District Fair
Ending the summer is the Mannington District Fair. It started in 1932 and will make its eighty-first appearance in Marion County this summer. The fair has thrilling shows (like the Fearless Flores Thrill show), totally able musical groups (such as The Hubcaps, Ryan Cain and the Ables and Tanne Lynne and the Total Package), go-carts, demo-derbies, and competitions (like trick pony riding and poultry judging).
If you can handle it, see if you can make it to all five events! Take as many pictures as you can, and share them with us on the Marion County CVB Facebook page.
Which fair or festival are you most excited to attend?
Pepperoni Roll Eating Contest
Pepperoni Roll Eating Contest – We Crown the Champion Right Here in Marion County
For the third year in a row, May 25 will be the day- that gloriously grand day- when a lucky and trained eater will take the title as world champion pepperoni roll eater.
As we all know (though the surrounding states and greater world seem a little less knowledgeable), Fairmont, West Virginia is home to the pepperoni roll. Created and perfected here is the art of wrapping pepperoni in bread and baking it for a glorious, original West Virginia experience. Even better? Fairmont is home to the annual world champion pepperoni roll eating contest.
It feels like home; this contest brings together our favorite local treat and honors the county’s Italian coal-mining roots. Major League Eating has close to one hundred competitions a year, and this particular competition has one of the most expensive purses. $2,500 goes to first place; in all, $6,500 goes to the top six pepperoni roll eaters.
Many wonder how this magnificent creation came to fortuitous existence. The pepperoni roll was no fluke. It was crafted from sheer resourcefulness. Many Italian men worked in the West Virginia coal mines, and took bread and pepperoni for lunch. One ingenious man, J. Argiro, decided to bake the pepperoni into the bread, thus creating the delicious food and his own company, the Country Club Bakery.
With that kind of history, it’s incredible that this contest has only been happening for three years. After all, the pepperoni roll was created here in Marion County. Major League Eating was established in 1997. The contest is held during the Three Rivers Festival (May 23- 25), which has been going since 1967. Why it took so long for the three to come together is a mystery, but we’re just glad they did!
If you want to take part in future competitions, you should probably start practicing now! To get you started, try this simple pepperoni roll recipe at home.
Quick and Easy Pepperoni Rolls
- Unroll crescent rolls, place pepperoni (sticks or slices)
- (optional) Place cheese on top of pepperoni, usually mozzarella (sticks or shredded)
- (optional) Split, add marinara sauce, more cheese, roasted green peppers, and/or chili
- Serve, share (or not), enjoy!
Country Club Bakery is not the only great baker of pepperoni rolls. Share your recipes with us on the Marion County Facebook page.
How many pepperoni rolls have you eaten in one sitting?
New Executive Director
During a recent meeting, the Board of Directors of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Marion County named Leisha Elliott as Executive Director of the CVB. Leisha has been serving as Interim Executive Director since January 1. She replaces Marianne Moran, who retired from the CVB in December 2012 after almost 20 years of service. Leisha has been part of the CVB since April 2011, when she joined the team to serve as Group Sales Director.
“The Board of Directors members feel that Leisha is uniquely qualified to serve as Executive Director because of her background and training, as well as her service to the CVB and strong connections to Marion County,” according to Amy Pellegrin, President of the CVB Board of Directors. “We look forward to working with Leisha to continue to promote the many tourism attractions in our own backyard.”
While she was Group Sales Director, Leisha organized several Familiarization Tours of Marion County for tour operators and front-line tourism staff. She also developed the content for the CVB’s social media channels and new Marion County Bridal Brochure. Leisha is also working towards her Tourism Marketing Professional (TMP) certification through the Southeast Tourism Society. She has been selected as a member of Leadership West Virginia’s Class of 2013.
Leisha is a native of Marion County and a graduate of Fairmont State College (now Fairmont State University) where she received a B.S. degree in Business Science. While in college, she became the owner of Fairview Floral, which she successfully ran for 15 years. She has worked as a consultant for Main Street West Virginia, specializing in work plan design training, and was Program Manager for Mannington Main Street from 2000 to 2006. She serves on the Community Resource Committee of the United Way of Marion County. Leisha and her husband, Nelson, reside in Mannington with their children Samuel, Grant, Mary and Adam.
Stop by the Visitors Center and meet Leisha when you have a chance!
How to Plan the Perfect Girls Getaway In Marion County
Researchers now say that the planning and anticipation of a vacation, no matter the length of time, offers dramatic health benefits both mentally and physically. It lowers stress hormones which helps lower high blood pressure. Now if that’s not a good reason to start planning a vacation now, we don’t know what is.
So, why not call your favorite girlfriends, the ones who are there through all life’s hurdles, and gather in Marion County. Treat yourself to relaxing nights and leisurely mornings. Then you and your girlfriends can laugh your way through our local shops and boutiques where you won’t be able to go home empty-handed.
We have shops to satisfy every taste and budget.
· Or perhaps your home needs a facelift. You must drop in on Friendly Furniture Galleries, Craft Connection Gift Shop, Main Street Shoppes, Country Prim & Folksy, Rider Pharmacy, Cards, Gifts and Collectibles or The CAVE.
· And lately have you found yourself reading nothing beyond the nutritional label on a cereal box? Then pick up a best-seller, a glossy magazine or a “trashy” romance novel from Kerri’s Korner Bookstore.
Feeling better yet?
If you still need a little boost, stop by Healthy Naturally where you will find sensible solutions to getting well and staying well. Patricia, who is a certified herbalist, and her knowledgeable staff are a great resource to getting well and staying well.
Relax and Rejuvenate
However, no Girlfriend Getaway would be complete without a few hours at Tuscan Sun Spa. In addition to traditional spa services, the boutique includes Aveda beauty products, luxurious jewelry, handbags and other accessories, gourmet chocolates, and organic Fair Trade teas. And if you want to pamper the "tweens" and teens in your life, Spa Piccola is the "little" version of Tuscan Sun Spa. Tuscan Sun Spa also offers parties for girls of all ages, so if you’ve got something to celebrate during your getaway, you can do it here.
You can also get pampered in the lap of luxury at Lion in the Sun. In addition to indoor tanning options, they provide various other services including custom air-brush spray tanning, “red light therapy”, massage therapy, teeth whitening and professional indoor tanning products.
A Night On The Town
You’ve got to visit Heston Farm Winery and Distillery, located along the banks of the Tygart River. The winery is filled with the timeless quality of farm life and will take you back to a simpler time. Enjoy country-style food, tours, concerts, special events, wine and whiskey tastings.
So get those girlfriends on the line – doctor’s orders!
Tis the Season. . . . .
To get engaged? Perhaps over the holidays you noticed that among the ads for toys, electronics and clothing, there were also plenty of ads for diamond engagement rings.
Think the little blue box from Tiffany’s®, He went to Jared’s® or a personal favorite, Every Kiss begins with Kay®
It must be the magic of the holiday season, the sparkling lights, celebrating, gift-giving, and being around friends and family that invites the asking of that special question. So it comes as no surprise that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the most popular times of the year for that extraordinary moment. It’s also makes it convenient to announce your engagement while family and friends are around during the holidays!
Once the initial surprise, tears and hugs of congratulations subside, it is time to start planning. That is where the Convention & Visitors Bureau of Marion County can help. We have put together a wedding brochure featuring a wide-range of Marion County businesses, guest activities and recreation ideas and venues to help streamline your decision making process. Be sure to stop by the Visitor Center or call today to get your FREE wedding brochure.
New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day are also very popular days to pop the question. No matter what day your beloved chooses it will be remembered for years to come! The Convention & Visitors Bureau of Marion County is here to help lessen the stress of planning, so your engagement and wedding day can be memorable.
You will easily see why Marion County’s historical past is the perfect place to start your storied future.
While Visions of Sugar Plums Danced in Their Heads. . . . .
Isn't it interesting the way holiday traditions always center around the kitchen and food? No matter what the culture or holiday, our memories linger on aromas in the kitchen and the delicious tastes of the foods we love.
As you prepare for the Christmas season and reflect on your own traditions, we would like to share with you some of our favorite foods and why they are so meaningful.
Marianne: My husband’s mother always made this cookie for Christmas and it was my husband’s favorite cookie. When we married 38 years ago, I began making the cookies for Chuck and I always know when he has been eating them as I can follow the “powdered sugar trail” through the house!
Russian Tea Cakes
- 1 cup butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, plus more for rolling cookies
- 2 cups flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 325⁰
Cream butter in large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla then gradually add the ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Sift the flour, measure, and then sift again with the salt. Add gradually to the butter mixture. Add the nuts and mix well.
Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, or until edges are very lightly browned. Remove the cookies from the baking sheets and roll in powdered sugar while still hot. Cool on wire racks and roll cookies again in powdered sugar.
Once they are completely cooled, cookies may be stored in airtight containers for up to 1 week.
Makes 4 dozen cookies.
Sharon: My mom used to make these treats every year. We would always get some but the bulk of what she made was for neighbors who had no one there for Christmas. Every Christmas Eve we would sneak around the neighborhood and place a package of Christmas goodies on the front porch for that person to find. We never left our name, but somehow I think the neighbors suspected it was us. They were easy to make and never lasted long in our home.
The Christmas before my mom died, she shared her recipe. We made these cookies until the wee hours of the morning and then took them to the local VA hospital as a treat for all the veterans on Christmas morning. Needless to say the cookies didn’t last long there either! My family still makes and gives away these cookies to special neighbors who live alone and just need to know someone is thinking of them. You can never tell what surprises you may find on your porch Christmas morning . . . . . . .
Date Filled Cookie Bars
Original recipe makes 1 -9x13 inch pan
- 1 pound dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for dusting
Directions: In a medium saucepan bring the dates, sugar, water, lemon zest and orange zest to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 325⁰
Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, stir together the rolled oats, flour, baking soda, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Stir in the walnuts and melted butter.
Mixture will be somewhat crumbly.
Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Spread the date filling evenly over the crust.
Crumble the rest of the crust mixture over the filling, and pat down slightly.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven.
Cut into bars while warm.
Dust with confectioners' sugar when cooled.
Leisha: For as long as I can remember, my aunt has made this coffee cake for our Christmas morning breakfast – with one exception. Three years ago, she and my uncle arrived at my parent’s home with arms full of presents – but no coffee cake. Twelve hungry people stood there in horror as she realized that she forgot the cake. She just didn't forget it at home – she completely forgot to bake it. Needless to say, the beloved coffee cake was there for the next year’s Christmas morning breakfast!
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
Stir together dry ingredients and set aside
Cream butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream and vanilla
Add dry ingredients to butter mixture
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
Generously grease and flour a bunt pan. Shake out excess flour.
Spoon a layer of batter around pan then add a little nut mixture. Continue with layers ending with the nut mixture.
Bake at 350⁰ for 40 minutes. Let cake rest in pan for 15 minutes then invert to cake stand. Cool completely before slicing.
Perhaps the most recognized holiday traditions come from the Feast of the Seven Fishes Christmas Eve dinner. The following recipe was shared at this year’s Feast of the Fishes Festival cooking school demonstration.
Cucidati: Italian Fig Cookies
- 1 pound pitted dates
- 1 pound dried figs
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Juice and rind on one small orange
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, cut into ½ - inch cubes
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
- Colored sprinkles for decorating
Directions: For the filling, using a food processer, grind dates and figs together. Grind walnuts then a whole orange with its peel and juice. Put the ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add sugar and water, stir over low heat so that the sugar completely dissolves and mixture is smooth and spreadable, about 15 minutes, cool.
To make the sough, in a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine. Add the butter and blend with your fingertips until most of the mixture resembles coarse meal.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg, milk and vanilla together. Add to the dry mixture and stir to make rough dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Cut the dough into 4 pieces, cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375⁰ Lightly grease 2 large baking sheets or use parchment paper lined baking sheets.
On a lightly floured surface, one at a time, roll out each piece of dough into a 12-inch square. Cut the dough into 4 x 3 –inch rectangles. Spook 2 tablespoons of filling down the center o0f each rectangle. Fold the long sides of each rectangle inward to the center to enclose the filling; pinch the edges to seal. Turn the cookies seam-side down and press gently to flatten the seams. With a floured knife, cut the logs crosswise into 1 ½ -inch-wide slices and arrange ½ inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Brush with egg wash and decorate with colored sprinkles. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
What Christmas cooking traditions would you like to share?
Have you ever found yourself wondering, “Where can I find that in Marion County?”
Now, thanks to our new app, you have Marion County (literally) at your fingertips. Everything you need to explore our area is here for you. Dining, shopping, activities: it’s all at the touch of a button to help you plan your day or your trip to our area.
Use the app to find a restaurant, then tap the address for live directions to its location. Plan your shopping outing using the app listings. Keep up to date on our latest social media activity. All from your iPhone or iPad.
One of the features we like best is the calendar. Now it’s even easier to see what’s happening in Marion County. You can plan your trip, or even just plan your day, using app information.
We can’t wait to hear how you’re using the app to explore Marion County. Enjoy!
Feast of the Seven Fishes Festival
A FAIRMONT HOLIDAY TRADITION CONTINUES
The seventh annual Feast of the Seven Fishes Festival will be celebrated on Saturday, December 8, 2012 on Monroe Street in historic downtown Fairmont. The Italian-heritage festival is free and open to the public from 11:00 am until 7:30pm. You’ll find authentic foods showcasing local chefs and restaurants. The festival will also feature many local vendors selling gift baskets, Christmas ornaments, handmade jewelry and candles, live pine trees, fresh pine, holly wreaths and garland plus other unique food and gift items. New this year are tours of the Agape Church (Gatherings) with ensemble performances.
Italian holiday favorites will be featured, and there will be contests for homemade cookies and wine. The cooking school will demonstrate how to prepare the “Seven Fishes Feast” with all NEW recipes this year. Live music and entertainment will continue all day, center stage in the old Fairmont firehouse. There will be plenty of tables and chairs located in the firehouse and in various locations under shelter to keep warm.
Then wrap up the day with the Christmas Parade and a Catholic Mass.
The Marion County Transit Authority will offer FREE shuttle service between the Prickett's Fort Christmas Market and downtown Fairmont, giving you the chance to enjoy both of these holiday events.
Leave downtown Fairmont for Prickett’s Fort Christmas Market
11:30 am, 1:00 pm and 2:30 pm
Leave Prickett’s Fort Christmas Market for downtown Fairmont
12:00 pm, 1:30 pm and 3:00 pm
You won’t want to miss this opportunity to experience an Italian Christmas tradition set in historic downtown Fairmont.
11:00 am - 5:30pm Bocce Ball Courts will be set up in the parking lot next to the Union Mission. Watch the pros and learn or join in a pick-up game
11:00am - 12:00 pm National Anthem, Opening Remarks and Dedication in the firehouse
12:00 pm - 12:30 pm Florence Chico Cann Children’s Choir
11:30am -1:00 pm Festival Cucina Cooking School/Demo The cooking demonstration is $20 per person and is takes place in CJ Maggie’s Restaurant, Jefferson Street, which will open just for this event.
12:30 pm - 1:00 pm Ott Meale and Sam Manno
1:00 pm - 1:30pm Brittany Marie
1:30 pm - 3:00 pm Five Guys Named Moe
3:45 pm Cookie Contest and Wine Making Contest winners announced
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm Mirella the Musician
4:00 pm - 5:45 pm The Cavaliers
5:30 pm Christmas Parade
6:30 pm Catholic Mass in the Agape Church at 216 Monroe Street
Fairmont celebrates The Feast of the Seven Fishes Festival every December thanks to the efforts of Bob Tinnell, who along with his wife, Shannon, wrote the graphic-novel, Feast of the Seven Fishes: The Collected Comic Strip and Italian Holiday Cookbook.
So are you still curious about what the Feast is all about? This excerpt from Appalachian History, by Dave Tabler, will tell you more:
This southern Italian feast is traditionally celebrated on Christmas Eve. It stems from the observance of the Cena della Vigilia, the wait for the miraculous birth of Christ in which early Christians fasted on Christmas Eve until after receiving communion at Midnight Mass. At one time, Rome was the farthest point north where ‘La Vigilia’ was celebrated, but today Italians throughout the world celebrate it.
“When I was kid, eating fish on Christmas Eve was just something you did,” says (Bob)Tinnell. “We never called it by name. I never even bothered to question why we did it, especially as I had not been raised Catholic. All I knew was that December 24th meant a delicious meal of exotic foods, cooked up by my ancient great-grandmother, Isabella Oliverio, on her wood-fired stove in the basement of her modest home in Rivesville, WV.”
At least 11 percent of the population of Harrison, Marion, and Monongalia counties has Italian ancestry. The larger communities are in the vicinity of Clarksburg, Fairmont, and Morgantown respectively. Many Italians originally immigrated to West Virginia in the early twentieth century to work in the coal mines throughout the state.
Specialty glass factories in this region were largely an Italian immigrant industry with factories in Fairmont, Mannington, and Clarksburg. Italian stonemasons were also common in the early communities. So ‘La Vigilia’ clearly has an established place among West Virginia Christmas traditions.
Why seven types of fish for this Christmas feast? Some believe that seven fishes are served because it took God seven days to create the world, while others mention the Seven Hills of Rome. There is also the possibility that the seven fishes symbolize the seven sacraments in the Catholic Church, along with the seven sins, or the seven days it took Mary and Joseph to reach Bethlehem, or the seven of the twelve Apostles who were fishermen. Some say it is because it took God seven days to create the universe.
Some regions of Italy require three courses (the Trinity or three Wise Men), nine courses (the Trinity times three), twelve courses (the Apostles), thirteen courses (the Apostles, plus Jesus), or even 25 courses (for the days in the Christmas season).
The origins vary, depending on who you ask, but quite clearly, you did not eat meat on Christmas Eve since it was the birth of Jesus, and just as you would not eat meat on Good Friday, you would not eat meat on Christmas Eve. As midnight brings Christmas day, that is when you would start cooking the sausage for Christmas Dinner, and often the eating would go on until the late/early morning hours.
The people from Naples are famous for their elaborate spreads of cold shellfish cocktails and hot fish dishes, as well as the roasted peppers and antipasti. In most of the southern coastal regions in Italy and Sicily, seafood was abundant and so offered the perfect opportunity to work fish into the menu for this festive day.
Two fish most traditionally found on Christmas Eve menus across Italy are baccalà (salted cod) and anguilla (eel). Other popular fishes that are eaten on this special holiday are prepared versions of calamari, kale patties, oysters, scallops, whiting, clams, and shrimp. At the Feast of the Seven Fishes, the meal usually begins with antipasto, the Italian equivalent of hors d’oeuvres. This can include a variety of cold foods such as cheeses and raw or marinated vegetables.
The meal ends with any number of delectable desserts. One that is almost always present is panettone, the famous sweet cake-like Christmas bread that is eaten during the Christmas holidays.
We can’t wait for this annual Marion County festival; it’s one of our favorite events of the year. Will we see you there?
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