· African American · Asian Indian · Jewish · Middle Eastern · Native American · Other ·
The Mid-Ohio Valley is a large region encompassing much of the northwestern part of the state, including seven counties: Calhoun, Jackson, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt, and Wood. More than 50% of the population of the Mid-Ohio Valley resides in Wood County, in Parkersburg, and the immediate vicinity. Historically, Irish ancestry has been a proportionally high part of the population in Wood, Wirt, Calhoun, Roane, and Jackson counties, and English ancestry has been very high in Wirt and Roane counties. The contemporary Parkersburg-Vienna area is particularly diverse and is also host to one of the state's largest multicultural events, the Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival. In addition to the communities discussed below, there are significant numbers of people of Asian, French, Hispanic, Polish, Greek, and Slovakian background in the Parkersburg area. We hope to learn more about these communities in the future.
In the Mid-Ohio Valley, there are approximately 1,500 African Americans, which represents approximately 3% of the population of African Americans in West Virginia (this 1990 figure is probably an underestimate). Parkersburg is the home to the majority of the African American population in this region. The community has very old roots and a rich history. In recent years, the Parkersburg community has grown almost 50%, as a large population has located here for work.
Many of the community activities are associated with the local black churches. The four predominantly black churches in the area were started in the 1880's. These are Wesleyan Methodist Church, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Zion Baptist Church, and Logan Memorial United Methodist Church. Churches have Men's Days and Women's Days, which involve a special Sunday morning service, a meal shared with the church community, and an afternoon of socializing. There are several social clubs in the area, including the few surviving predominantly black Masons and Elks clubs. Local organizations, like the Dukes and Duchesses, provide active social clubs featuring dances and cultural outings. An important historical and educational institution in the area is the Sumnerites African American Museum and Community. This was the first free school below the Mason-Dixon line (and also the first free black school). The major activity of the museum is as a learning center. The general Parkersburg community holds numerous activities in observance of Martin Luther King's birthday, Black History Month, Kwanzaa, and other celebrations originating in the African American community.
Sumnerites First Free School
P.O. Box 4426
Parkersburg, WV 26104
WVU at Parkersburg
100 Campus Drive
Parkersburg, WV 26104
In the Mid-Ohio Valley, there are approximately 150 Asian Indians, which represents approximately 6% of the Asian Indian population in West Virginia. The only Asian Indian community in this region is located in Parkersburg. The community is represented by the Asian Indian Association.
Asian Indian heritage is particularly vibrant in Wood County, where the community is actively involved with presenting and sharing Asian Indian cultural traditions. The community in the Parkersburg area is small relative to the communities in the Metro Valley, but it is an active group which meets for numerous regular community events. The local community hosts several activities which celebrate Asian Indian culture, including the Holi Spring Festival, the Diwali Autumn Festival, and an Annual Asian Indian Picnic hosted by the Asian Indian Association. These activities are open to the general public and include traditional food, music, and dance. There are also several individuals in the area who perform music and dance, though not on a professional basis.
Asian Indian Association
104 Brentwood Heights
Parkersburg, WV 26101
Gujarathi Folk Dancers
252 N. Hills Drive
Parkersburg, WV 26101
The Parkersburg Jewish community consists of approximately 40 to 50 families. The Jewish community is primarily of German and Eastern European (including Polish, Russian, and Romanian) descent, but now is mainly American-born. Traditions are strongly upheld through activities at the B'Nai Israel Temple.
The Parkersburg congregation meets bi-weekly at the temple. They currently do not have a full-time rabbi, but bring one in from Cincinnati. The community has a Jewish dinner for the congregation, and it also has adult education programs where topics of interest are discussed. All of the holidays are observed including Passover, Chanukah, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur. These activities bring the community together many times throughout the year. The community also holds a Holocaust Memorial service.
Doug Kreinik, President
B'Nai Israel Temple
1703 20th Street
Parkersburg, WV 26101-3509
In the Mid-Ohio Valley, there are approximately 300 Native Americans, which represents approximately 10% of the population of Native Americans in West Virginia. The majority of this population is in Wood County (70%).
See the General Description of the Statewide Native American Community
55 New Hope road
Hebron, WV 26346
2307 17th Street
Parkersburg, WV 26101
In addition to the communities discussed above, this region is home to individuals representing numerous other nationalities and ethnic heritages. Groups in this region for whom we currently have no contact include Chinese, French, Greek, Hispanic, Korean, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Thai, and Vietnamese populations. These are small populations in general, but their presence adds a richness of diversity to the communities in and around Parkersburg.
Various ethnic communities from throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley and the world are represented in the annual Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival. The 1999 festival participants included those representing Italian, Polish, Spanish, South American, African American, German, Irish, Middle Eastern, and Scottish cultures. The festival is held in Parkersburg City Park in mid-June and is free to the public. The Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival features traditional music and dance performances, ethnic food, and an international marketplace. The major goals of the festival are to enhance multicultural awareness through artistic endeavors, to celebrate, perpetuate, and preserve diverse art and culture, to encourage dialog among diverse groups, and to recognize common traditions. The festival committee also organizes an annual conference on multiculturalism for the Parkersburg community.
Beatrice K. Corra, President
Vinod Berry, Vice President
Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival
P.O. Box 2050
Parkersburg, WV 26102
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