Gearing Up for Gate 5

The mill’s No. 5 Gate, a main entry point to Weirton Steel’s production facilities. It is from this gate that Weirton’s heritage festival takes its name.

The Gate 5 Industrial Art Festival, which celebrates the industry and heritage on which the city of Weirton was built, is now in its second year and is slated to take place this coming Saturday, September 21, 2019. The day will start with the TinMan 5K run/walk at 7 a.m. and will continue at 11 a.m. with live music and craft vendors at the Weirton Event Center; children’s activities sponsored by ASAP in front of the Mary H. Weir Public Library (3442 Main Street); a family-friendly Puzzle Hunt, created by Weirton’s own EscapeWorks; live glassblowing demonstrations by artists from the Pittsburgh Glass Center; and blacksmithing demonstrations by students from Belmont College. Also placed throughout the downtown area will be various Touch-a-Truck sites. Each site will give children an opportunity to have direct contact with work vehicles, like police cars, fire trucks, and even a limo. This will also be a prime Art Drop Day, in which local artists will hide small creations downtown for visitors to find and ultimately keep. And speaking of art, please stop into Summit Art Gallery (3393 Main Street), to see an exhibition of Steampunk- and industrial-themed artwork, photography, and jewelry, all created by artists from the surrounding area.

Robert L. Watson, “Just Right of Gate 5,” watercolor on paper, currently on view at Summit Art Gallery, 3393 Main Street, Weirton

In nearby Cove Commons, you’ll find the completed Fiestaware Mosaic, created by artist and West Liberty student Elaine Klar. It offers a beautiful, visual panorama Weirton’s history and its major iconic landmarks, depicted in small shards of Fiestaware. It was completed by Elaine, her family, and a host of volunteers in May of this year.

One of the most important stops along the Gate 5 event route is the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center (3149 Main Street). Not only is it part of the EscapeWorks Puzzle Hunt, it is an absolute treasure trove, filled with a wealth of photographs, historical objects, and information about our city’s past. It reflects where we’ve come from and what makes us who we are as a community. On the Museum’s second floor, you’ll find an amazing, nearly life-sized panoramic photograph of Hollidays Cove, as it appeared in the 1800s, well before our streets were paved. Hollidays Cove, primarily rural and agrarian and founded in 1793 by John Holliday, is the small village that was eventually absorbed by the unincorporated mill settlement established further north by Ernest T. Weir in 1909. It was Weir who changed the village’s name and exponentially expanded its borders. Weirton was incorporated in 1947, a decade before its founder and namesake died. In terms of square miles, Weirton is still West Virginia’s largest city, bigger even than Charleston, our state’s capital.

Two I-beams from the five-piece sculpture created as a collaboration between Weir High students and award-winning West Virginia artist Bob Villamagna. These are currently on view at the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center (3149 Main Street in Weirton). Pictured here are WAMCC volunteer Savannah Schroll Guz (left) and Stifel Fine Arts Center Director Rick Morgan (right) putting a beam together. (Photo credit: Dennis Jones, WAMCC Director)

The Weirton Area Museum is also currently exhibiting an exciting glimpse of the creative energy now percolating in our city’s schools, both public and private. In an ongoing program organized by the Oglebay Institute and funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Weir High students in Mrs. Laura Johnston’s classes had the opportunity to collaborate with award-winning West Virginia artist Bob Villamagna to create a sculpture that references the city’s past, while also pointing to the possibilities for its future. The five-part sculpture, located on the Museum’s first floor, depicts I-beams rising above crushed cans. Each beam is emblazoned with the logos of bygone Weirton businesses. Their reference to the strength of steel, along with their steadfast elevation above the disintegration beneath them is a symbol for the city itself: we are a strong community and the builders of our own future. From here, so much is possible.

We hope you’ll join us this Saturday, September 21, for this celebration of Weirton and its past, present and future.

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