WEIRTON - Hundreds came out to the Millsop Community Center for the third-annual Festival of Nations on Saturday to share in the multi-cultural experiences offered at the event sponsored by the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center.
"This festival has been a great success in bringing people from all over to one place to share in this experience," said Festival of Nations Committee Chairman Dr. Juginder K. Luthra. "We all have different roots and we remember and celebrate them together and I hope this festival continues on forever."
In the 1930s and 1940s, when the Festival of Nations was first held, Luthra said it was the wake of an economic disaster, the Great Depression, that brought the community together. While today's economic conditions are not quite as dismal, he said, it is nice to once again be able to turn to something positive that costs no money for those looking for a nice event to bring their families to.
Luthra added there is a great deal of excitement surrounding the festival and the museum and all the support offered by the community is appreciated. Luthra said Saturday's crowd was the largest yet. There were a number of performances scheduled, he said, and so many wanting to participate that some had to be turned away.
"We want to be part of the attraction and hub to bring people to Weirton and have a place to go where the people of Weirton, a city with over 50 different nationalities living together, can go to appreciate their heritage and history of Weirton."
West Virginia's acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin was also in attendance. He said it was an honor and a privilege to be invited. He added there is a special bond that was formed in Weirton when immigrants were coming to the United States in the 30's and 40's seeking work in the steel industry that is still present today.
"Weirton is truly a melting pot and this event, with the variety of food and entertainment, is the perfect tribute to the history of this community," said Tomblin.
Tomblin, along with former state senator Ed Bowman, were presented with certificates of appreciation for supporting the event and the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center.
Continuing with the presentation of various awards, Dennis Jones, museum president, presented lifetime honorary memberships to the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center to Pam Makricosta, Richard Reinard Sr. and Victor Greco.
Jones said there are also many people who work behind the scenes and do a great deal of work that not many are aware of and presented Joe Stankiewicz with an appreciation award for being "the man behind the curtain."
Finally, Jones asked that Drs. Juginder and Dolly Luthra be recognized for their hard work and dedication to the museum and to the Festival of Nations.
"Without them, we would not have revived our city's Festival of Nations," Jones said. "Through their drive and leadership, we are fortunate enough to be able to host this event and celebrate the wonderful cultures of the people in this community."
The Festival of Nations featured performances by the Grecian Stars, Ruby Jain, St. Joseph the Worker Choir, Tessie, Eli and Zac Tokash, Yanlai Dance Academy, Nandanik Dance Academy, Sheena Chopra, Fillipino American Dance Group, Western Pennsylvania Firefighters Memorial Scottish Highlanders, Italian American Cultural Club, Kingdom's Children, Tom Zielinsky, Kyiv Ukranian Dance Ensemble and Monsters in the Hood.