The pleasure of your company is requested at the Statehood Ball being hosted by members of the Wheeling Civil War 150 Committee on the evening of Saturday, June 22 at The McLure Hotel in Wheeling. Doors will open for the event at 5:30 p.m., a light dinner will be served at 6, and music and dancing will be enjoyed from 7 to 9.
Tickets to the unique event are available at a cost of $15 for a single reservation and $25 for couples, and they are available for purchase and pickup at the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau near Wesbanco Arena. To reach the bureau office call 304-233-7709 for additional information, ticket purchases and directions.
Guests at the commemorative celebration are invited and encouraged to don Civil War era clothing to wear at the celebration, but are not required to do so, as sporting these classic looks is easily arranged through the local business known as 'Stages."
Dancing a waltz are Heritage Dance Association members Angela and Don Feenerty of Martins Ferry and Glinda and John Bowmen of Wheeling. Leading the dance is Dance Master Ed Phillips also of Wheeling.
Civil War enthusiasts and new members of the Heritage Dance Association ready themselves for the Grand Ball. Left to Right are John and Glenda Bowman, with the Friends of Wheeling, Rebekah Karelis, with WNHAC and Ed Phillips with the Civil War Round Table.
The Statehood Ball has become something of a Wheeling area tradition, as it is now being held a third time. It was held previously in 1913, in celebration of the 50 year anniversary of West Virginia's statehood, and again in 1963 for marking its 100th anniversary.
There is nothing quite like celebrating a major event with friends old and new, particularly if it involves fun, food and festive attire, which is exactly what has been happening across the state of West Virginia over the past year as its 150th birthday was being marked in distinctive fashion in communities across the state.
Not to be outdone by any of the events of this past year's celebratory activities, a formal Civil War Era Ball is set to be held at the McLure House located in the heart of Wheeling, a city where the path of American history was forever altered.
The state of West Virginia was the only one born of the Civil War.
However, there have been many more events slated over the course of this past year than just one birthday celebration of the state's 150th birthday. A large number of them have included festive music suitable for toe tapping and opportunities for young and old alike to take to the dance floor - whether it was a beautiful hardwood floor or a hard packed dirt floor - the dance floor always proved to be the centerpiece of any such social event.
This particular celebration is not limiting participation in the festivities to only those who have been able to join in the fun of learning Civil War era dances through the Heritage Dance Association in advance of the event, or even to those who have come decked out in their finest period attire.
The dance entertainment format of the event will involve demonstrations as well as opportunities for newcomers to step onto the dance floor, comfortable in the knowledge their willingness to step up is both appreciated and meant to be enjoyable for all.
"Featured entertainment will be a Civil War-Era dance demonstration by the Heritage Dance Association. The Heritage Dance Association has led classes in Civil-War Era dance classes since the winter and will provide a wonderful demonstration of classic dances from the period. There will be two dance demonstrations by the Heritage Dance Association. There will also be an open dance for the general public. Music is being provided by local folk band Gallowglass who will be accompanied by the Marsh Wheeling String Band," offered Jeremy Morris of the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation.
As was tradition at the time of the Civil War, social dances were generally very structured, with the steps being called by a selected individual known as a dance master.
Martins Ferry resident Don Feenerty will be dance master for the 150th Statehood Ball.
"The dance master informs dancers how to line up for the next dance," offered Don Feenerty. "He or she will then announce the dance pattern, and at times, will even walk everyone through the dance and then join in the dance itself, all the while keeping an eye out for any dancers in need of assistance."
"Our HDA dancers will be providing two brief demonstrations, with three demo dances in each set and at least one audience participation dance per set," he said. "The participatory dances will be quickly taught and led the same way they would have been during the Civil War. There will be couple dances and will be easy to learn and execute."
"The Ball will begin the same way any Ball would have begun in the mid-19th century, with a Grand March. The March is a parade of sorts wherein the gentlemen escort their ladies around the hall so those in attendance can see the elegant ball gowns," said Morris. 'The Grand March will end in the first dance formation of the evening, known as proper longways sets. The HDA dancers will dance several period popular dances, and then ask that those who wish to dance to join in."
Well known throughout the area for promoting the healthful and social advantages of many traditional dance forms and disciplines, the Martins Ferry couple of Don and Angela Feenerty are founders of HDA.
The local couple serves as directors of Heritage Dance Association, Inc., which is a non-profit volunteer dance organization headquartered in Martins Ferry. Through their organization, for some months now, HDA dancers have been dedicating many hours of their time to preparing for the Statehood Celebratory Ball, which has often had a greater reach than just their respective dance skills.
"Many of the HDA dancers will be wearing clothing at the Statehood 150th Ball they have personally made just for this event," said Don Feenerty, noting his wife, Angela, has spearheaded many of the individual efforts to prepare period correct formal attire for herself and other participants in advance of the June 22 celebration.