The summer months bring the opportunity to take part in a variety of local activities for our area and its residents.
Chief among those events are our local fairs and festivals.
It seems there is some type of event just about every weekend in some part of the Ohio Valley during the next several months, whether it be holiday gatherings, county fairs, celebrations of a particular culture or a special event reflective of a specific community.
From the parades and fireworks surrounding Independence Day to the Greek festivals of Weirton and Steubenville, to the Community Days events of Follansbee and Burgettstown and the Clay Festival in Newell, there are multiple options from which we can choose.
Many have come and go over the years, and some have changed with the times, but what makes them special is that all the events are organized and implemented locally. Most help to feature some aspect of our area's lifestyles; its people, culture, history, etc.
As a result of this job, I've had the opportunity to check out many of these events, taking in all the differences and similarities of the people and towns which make up the Tri-State Area.
Many of our local counties, for example, have some type of county fair. Some tend to focus on local crafts and food items, selling jams and jellies, pies, cakes and other goods. Others lean more toward agriculture, with animal contests, tractor pulls and various "old-fashioned"?games and activities for people of all ages.
Hancock County's fair, for instance, takes a close-knit community approach for many of its events, with local clubs and organizations involved in just about every aspect. Brooke County includes contests for local schools, a few rides and other special activities, and some local entertainment. Washington County, on the other hand, brings nationally known musical acts, demolition derbies, buildings full of hundreds of animals; essentially it's like a small circus, all set up on a permanent property near the city of Washington.
Follansbee celebrates its city each year with its Community Days, an event which usually sees past and present residents come together for food, games and live entertainment.
The Greek festivals assist our two Greek churches, literally bringing a taste of their culture to the rest of us in the area, with a variety of food and entertainment planned over several days.
I've always enjoyed checking out the Weirton festival, even if it ends up just being for a few minutes while picking up a food order.
This weekend's Renaissance Weirton Summerfest is another example of a locally planned event for the community.
It was developed only a few short years ago, and has featured everything from small carnival rides to food-eating contests, live animals and usually live entertainment by local acts.
It, too, has seen some changes in recent years, but it continues to shine in its own way.
Christmas in the Park in Follansbee, Christmas in the Village in Eldersville, the Peach Festival, several Apple festivals, car cruises, and many others.
There really appears to be just about something for everyone to enjoy if they just take the time to look around and see what is available for just a short drive through the Ohio Valley.
It's worth it to get out for an afternoon and check some of these things out, whether it's by yourself or with the whole family.
While several of the annual festivals already have passed for the year, there still are many more opportunities in the coming months to check out these extra special events.
It really doesn't matter what day the event falls on. What matters is they are there for us residents to enjoy, attend and celebrate.
I hope to see many of you out there experiencing the fun our area has to offer.
(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)