Very Spectacular Arts Festival serves children with disabilities

PARKERSBURG – Hundreds of students, parents and educators gathered Wednesday at West Virginia University at Parkersburg for the annual Very Spectacular Arts Festival.

The event is a hands-on festival for children with disabilities, serving students from Wood, Jackson, Tyler, Washington and Wirt counties. Co-sponsors are Artsbridge and WVU-Parkersburg.

“The arts enrich the lives of so many people, and especially students who might now have the chance otherwise to experience so many arts in one place,” said Jane Irvine, executive director of Artsbridge and event chairman.

This marked the 16th year of the event and was themed “The Arts Life Us Up!” As part of the theme, the mulitpurpose room was decorated with an array of colorful kites by Max Barker of the New Era Kite Club.

Students were given the opportunity to participate in a series of hands-on crafts, from crafting small pottery to face painting to wearing costumes to creating beaded bracelets.

The event also provides entertainment, including live music from the Parkersburg Catholic High School Pep Band, vocal and instrumental performances by a variety of artists and a performance by the Kootaga Indian Dancers.

Irvine said the event is made possible by the dozens of volunteers who work with students and man the various art stations throughout the building. Those volunteers included area organizations and students from Parkersburg South and Parkersburg Catholic high schools.

“Our volunteers, especially our student-age volunteers, benefit more than anyone from this experience,” she said.

The event is funded by Artsbridge, WVU-Parkersburg, Ohio River Border Initiative, The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley, Kohl’s, West Virginia Commission on the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, AMBUCS, Mid-Ohio Valley Community Organization on Disability and Alpharma, as well as supported by area businesses J.R.’s Donut Castle, Peoples Bank and Kaci Reckar with the Greenhouse at St. Marys.