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Betty Zane Days returning to Martins Ferry

T-L File Photos ABOVE: Two children enjoy themselves during a prior Betty Zane Days festival. The event is returning this August after being canceled last year due to COVID-19.

MARTINS FERRY — The Purple City is preparing to welcome back Betty Zane Days in August.

Organizers such as Justin Smith, fire captain at the Liberty Engine Company in Martins Ferry, said everyone is eager for the celebration to resume after the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the 2020 event.

“To my knowledge, discussing it with some of the older fire department members and our chiefs, I don’t think we’ve ever had to cancel it before since the fire department took it over,” he said.

“We weren’t happy we had to cancel it, that’s for sure. It’s something I think the community and the fire department look forward to every year. It was unfortunate for us and for the community.”

The festival is named in honor of Revolutionary War heroine Betty Zane, who risked her life to retrieve gunpowder during the siege of Fort Henry in what is now Wheeling.Zane and several of her family members later lived in the Martins Ferry area, and many of them are buried in the city’s Walnut Grove Cemetery.

The festival has long been a draw for people near and far.

“We have got the festival set for Wednesday, Aug. 4, through Saturday, Aug. 7. There’s going to be nightly rides and entertainment,” Smith said.Events will kick off with a 5K run/walk at 6 p.m. Aug. 4, with registration from 4-5 p.m.

There will be a corn bag toss tournament Aug. 6 and the parade and water battle in front of the ladder station, Unified Bank and the Times Leader office on Aug. 7.

The annual mushball game between the fire and police departments will follow.

“The Times Leader’s going to be the title sponsor of the event this year,” Smith said, adding that the event is highly anticipated.

“There’s definitely some excitement. I know that the committee members are buzzing around like bees, we’re getting everything lined up as fast as we can and as best as we can. A lot of carnivals are no longer available to us. A lot of the smaller ones actually went under and no longer exist because of COVID. It hit them pretty hard and our selection of carnivals is pretty slim. It took our chiefs awhile to find the right person that could get in in such a short time frame, getting them lined up. We’ve been working hard every week, getting things scheduled.

“We’re very excited. Everything’s coming together. We’re about a month away to the date of the event kicking off,” he said. “I can’t say the (COVID-related) shortages are giving us any issues, and honestly the community’s stepping up in some big ways.”

Along with The Times Leader, other sponsors include Convenient Food Mart, Unified Bank and other community members and businesses.

“Everyone within the city that we’ve reached out to, they’re just as excited as we are,” Smith said.

He expects a heavy turnout.

“I think people can’t wait to get out and enjoy a normal life again. This festival is going to hopefully see a good turnout so long as the weather cooperates as usual,” he said.

Entertainment will be Eli Lambie on Aug. 5, Jake Vinegar on Aug. 6 and Crazy Horse on Aug. 7. D.J. Daner is organizing the lineup.

Anyone wishing to donate or help can call Smith at 740-391-2718.

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