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Betty Zane Days a popular destination Thursday

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK Dwight Jenewein, left, who has operated food trucks at Betty Zane Days for 22 years, serves a smoothie to Kaylynn Yates of Martins Ferry on Thursday.

MARTINS FERRY — Betty Zane Days saw a respectable crowd Thursday at the City Park, despite an overcast sky that promised rain.

Local vendors returned to the festival and served up some crowd favorites. Martins Ferry American Legion members Joe and Jane Klug were at the organization’s food stand with the “famous Legion fries.”

“We’re bringing back the Legion fries at Betty Zane Days,” Jane Klug said. “We do that through the week and on our fish frys also. … It’s the Legion recipe.”

Legion cook Jennifer Hibbitts said this is the second year the Legion has participated in Betty Zane Days.

“We usually go through sometimes 200 sausages a night, depending on the crowd,” Hibbitts said of the various events where the Legion sells its tasty treats. “It’s a tradition for a lot of the people that grew up in Ferry.”

“We’re open to the public. We’re trying to promote our hall,” Joe Klug said.

The Legion also began hanging banners featuring photographs of area veterans or active duty military personnel.

Jane Klug said all the veterans are connected to the American Legion post or to Martins Ferry City Schools. The Legion will be hanging 35 along Zane Highway and has stopped taking orders, but orders will start again after Veterans Day for display in 2023, from Memorial Day to Veterans Day. Applications can be picked up at the Legion headquarters at 221 S. Zane Highway and at the city building at 35 S. Fifth St. or by calling 740-633-1494.

The Martins Ferry Lions Club was also active, with a food truck doing brisk business.

“The event is going excellent. It’s been really busy the last two nights,” Lions Club President Kayla Shreve said. “Usually it doesn’t pick up until Friday and Saturday.”

She added the taco in a bag is very popular with festival-goers.

Shreve said along with fundraising, the Lions Club is also considering service projects next year, such as renovating the park.

“We love being here. We donate every year that I can remember. We love supporting the fire department,” she said.

“So far the rain’s been holding off and we’ve been lucky with the weather,” Chief II Ron Hilton said. “The community’s turned out big for us.”

He pointed out more rides are featured this year, including a mechanical bull ride and a wall-climb. Movin’ and Groovin’ Productions out of Toronto provided the rides.

“I think we have a better turnout this year. It’s the second year out of COVID, so that helps a lot,” Hilton said.

The festival was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“That was the first year we didn’t have the Betty Zane Days for over 20 years. … This is the fire department’s main fundraiser for the year, and it really helps to get it back.”

“We were able to keep the tickets at $10 for the wristbands for all day,” Chief I Tom Kelly said. “We thank our sponsors and businesses for their donations.”

“It’s going great, but I think the rain’s keeping some people away, so hopefully we get a good turnout tomorrow,” Martins Ferry firefighter Dave “Beef” McGuire said, adding the festival is unlikely to be called off for rain. “If it does, we hunker down and wait for it to clear out. … I think it brings the city together. … If it was a nice, sunny day I think we would be booming, but people are still coming down.”

He added the festival will provide a valuable chance for the fire department to buy gear.

They also pointed out area vendor Dwight Jenewein of St. Clairsville, who operates four food trucks, selling items ranging from coffee products to gyros. He has been at the festival for 22 years.

“It’s a good place to come, the community always supports the fire department,” he said.

“He’s been our cornerstone since we started,” Hilton said.

Frequent attendees and newcomers were impressed.

“It’s nice to hang out, relax and enjoy the music, Cody Krol of St. Clairsville said.

Michael Lewis, a new resident of Martins Ferry, formerly of the Bethesda/Morristown area, was enjoying his first visit to the festival.

“There’s definitely a lot of good people here, really awesome rides for the kids, especially my youngest,” Lewis said.

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