Like many small towns dotting America’s landscape, Clarksburg, W.Va., possesses the key ingredients that keep locals proud and tourists planning weekend getaways.
With its delightful share of Victorian architecture, a charming town square, and a healthy smattering of cafés and boutiques lining Main Street, this Harrison County seat is nestled in the Appalachians of the north-central region of the state.
Like its moniker, “Jewel of the Hills,” Clarksburg shines best when it throws a party. A plethora of fun festivals mark the seasons, as surely as flowers bloom and leaves turn vibrant colors.
“So much of our tourism in the city comes from our festivals,” noted Tara Morrison, who promotes the area.
First up this spring is the town’s annual Scottish Festival & Celtic Gathering, taking place in nearby Bridgeport City Park May 6–8.
“Basically, we started our festival 15 years ago to teach the people about their Scottish ancestry and their Celtic heritage here in West Virginia,” said organizer Kevin Anderson.
Special events include pipe bands, dancing competitions, a concert, a Friday-night ceilidh (a party with music, delicious food, and lively conversation), and a parade, the Kirkin of the Tartans, in downtown Clarksburg.
If jazz is your thing, organizer Mike Lambiotte, of Clarksburg Uptown, invites you to the Summer Jazz Stroll on June 10. This year’s theme, “So You Think You’re SAXY,” features six noted saxophone players, with vocals and backups, performing in six different town venues, all within 1-1/2 blocks in the center of town.
“Our vision for the stroll is to expose music fans to a uniquely American music form,” Lambiotte explained, “and to expose locals and visitors to uptown Clarksburg, with its growing urban living opportunities, historical attractions, eclectic architecture, and its many ethnic restaurants.” (clarksburguptown.com)
Runners will gather June 18 for the 20th running of the Clarksburg 10K, taking place throughout the town’s scenic streets. There will be $10,000 available to lucky winners.
Honoring Italian heritage
Clarksburg’s Italian Heritage Festival is a large presence in the town, a grandiose Labor Day event taking place Sept. 2–4. Celebrating its 38th anniversary this year, this unforgettable street party has been voted one of the “Top 4 Italian Festivals” in the nation by the National Sons of Italy.
“This is one of our most popular events,” said Morrison. “Both sides of Main Street are lined with food and craft vendors. There is a large main stage and a secondary, smaller stage, with music going all day into the evening.”
The annual Black Heritage Festival takes place the weekend after Labor Day, with delicious soul food, entertainment, and cultural events. (wbhf.com) The Salem Apple Butter Festival celebrates old-fashioned apple butter making, along with other attractions including an apple pie baking contest, a parade, and fireworks. The fun takes place Oct. 6–9.
More than festivals
Lest visitors think Clarksburg’s only charm is its festivals, the tourism office wants to spread the word that the town — indeed all of Harrison County — offers history by way of its many Civil War trail markers and memorials, stately architectural homes, galleries, a vibrant downtown area with boutique shopping, one of the largest strip malls in West Virginia, and a number of ethnic restaurants, as well as nightlife. There’s even a 385,000-gallon water park with a lazy river, water slides, bath houses, and a 25-meter competition pool.
“I want Clarksburg to shine in its best light,” Morrison said. “We have so much to offer. People are missing out and they don’t even know it!”
Clarksburg Tourism: clarksburgvisitorswv.com