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Welcoming winter

MARTINS FERRY — Live music, entertainment and more are set to take place this weekend at the Martins Ferry Winterfest.

Project Forward will host the annual event from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday around the Hanover Street gazebo.

Melissa Yeso, founding board member of Project Forward and chairwoman of the event, said they are anticipating a good turnout for the event since the temperature is expected to be in the 50s. Last year’s event brought around 2,500 people into the city.

“We’re hoping with the beautiful weather that we’ll be able to replicate that,” she said.

“It gives us a chance to really showcase that Martins Ferry is a good place to call home if you’re a new business owner, and we have a lot going on. That’s what this is all about — giving people a fresh perspective as to why Martins Ferry would be a great place for a new business.”

The Snowflake 5K walk or run will kick things off at 9:30 a.m. The 5K starts at the Hanover and Zane HIghway intersection at Convenient Food Store. The Jingle Bell Run, a children’s race for those ages 10 and under, begins at 11:30 a.m.

The dog show, which includes a costume contest, owner look-alike contest and weiner race, will take place at 3:30 p.m. These events are all sponsored by The Snotty Pooch. There is no entry fee to participate.

Live music, sponsored by Hot Rod Tattooing, will be held from noon to 8 p.m. Jamie Kropka will start things off from noon to 2 p.m., followed by the Hollow Band from 2-4:30 p.m. The night will wrap up with Mongo Huey from 5-8 p.m.

Yeso said there will be around a dozen food trucks, numerous vendors and multiple inflatables for the kids. She said there are still openings for interested vendors.

This year, Project Forward will be collecting gloves, hats, socks, scarves and coats to benefit the Rider Care Closet. Yeso said the children’s closet has been depleted since the COVID-19 pandemic and they are hoping to restock the items for those in need.

“We wanted to make sure we brought the community together to help take care of our needy children,” she said, adding that donations of new or gently used items are welcome.

The day’s schedule also includes:

– The synthetic ice skating rink will be available, along with inflatables, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.;

– Santa Claus will be available for photos from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m;

– Cookie eating contest will start at 3 p.m.;

– Beer Garden will be serving up drinks throughout the day.

Yeso said there will also be balloon animals, the Martins Ferry Girl Scouts will be decorating cookies, and there will be ceramic painting by Ready Aim Fire.

Yeso credited the sponsors for making the event possible. This year’s sponsors include Unified Bank, Hot Rod Tattooing, Dan Stephens State Farm, Valleywide Insurance, Ready Aim Fire, Belmont College, Belmont Savings Bank, Wilson Funeral Home/Heslop Chapel, Deluxe Toy and Hobby, Linda Brown Allstate, Kendall Behavioral Solutions, Stecker Law, The Times Leader, Panhandle Cleaning & Restoration, Carolina Furniture, The Snotty Pooch, Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, and Belmont County Tourism.

“We have some amazing businesses that come out and really support our community involvement, and really it’s just fun for everyone,” she said.

“We encourage everyone to come out and enjoy Martins Ferry and enjoy the beautiful weather.”

Yeso said Project Forward is focused on giving back to downtown Martins Ferry. All the funds garnered from the organization’s events go back into the city.

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