Artsbridge, WVU-P busy prepping annual festival

PARKERSBURG – The theme for this year’s Very Spectacular Arts Festival will be “The Arts Lift Us UP!” on March 19 at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

The festival, which runs from 9 a.m.-2 -p.m., is sponsored by Artsbridge and WVU-P for students with special needs from school systems in seven counties in West Virginia and two in Ohio.

More than 330 students are expected to attend this year’s event, said Jane Irvine, executive director of Artsbridge and the chair of the festival.

The program serves students from Calhoun, Jackson, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt and Wood counties in West Virginia and Washington and Morgan counties in Ohio. Students at the Very Spectacular Arts Festival range in age from pre-school to young adults with activities for each age group.

Irvine said this year’s theme will be celebrated with decorative kites by the New Era Kite Club and colorful balloon creations provided by The Greenhouse at St. Marys.

A total of 15 “Art-Stops” will give children the opportunity to indulge their imagination and creativity and enjoy the fun of participating in a variety of arts experiences, she said. Among those will be karaoke, theater games, costume photography, painting and jewelry.

Local artists and musicians will lend their talents to the event by providing entertainment, including: Scott Cain on dulcimer; Amy Rogers Smith with “Music Fun”; Katie Ferguson from the Parkersburg Art Center with clay activities; The Puls family on cello and violins; and “Creative Movement” with Vicki Dils.

“My students at Ewing School made a card last year that said ‘Music gives us wings – thank you for helping us SOAR,'” Irvine said. “The Very Spectacular Arts festival will be a chance for hundreds of exceptional students to soar with the arts – lifting them up.”

Irvine said this year’s festival will be dedicated to the memory of Parkersburg resident Ron Jalbert, “who worked tirelessly as part of the Artsbridge team to make VSA successful.”

The festival is based on the national model which was created in 1974 by Jean Kennedy Smith, in affiliation with the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to give children with special needs the opportunity to experience live arts.

For additional information on the Very Spectacular Arts Festival, contact Artsbridge at 304-428-3988.