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Chili Fest Now Under the New Ownership of Visit Wetzel County

May 9, 2018
BY LAUREN MATTHEWS - Editor ( , Wetzel Chronicle

A Wetzel County favorite festival, Chili Fest, has been taken under new ownership, according to Sharon Thomas, Executive Director of the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce.

Chili Fest, formerly a product of the chamber, has been transferred to the Wetzel County Convention & Visitors Bureau, also known as Visit Wetzel County.

"This is a very positive transfer," Thomas said. She noted the Chili Fest has been happening for 18 years and has outgrown the chamber. "The CVB stepped in and said they would help," she said.

Article Photos

Photo by Telina Frye
Pictured from left to right are Tom Fonner, Robby Parsons, Fran Caldwell, Jonas Giovinazzo, Holly Giovinazzo, Lily Giovinazzo, Carla McBee, Don Riggenbach, Sandy Hunt, Debbie Bennett and Camissa McCurdy

She noted Robby Parsons, of Visit Wetzel County, "will be doing amazing things" for the event.

Thomas noted several county festivals and organizations began under the chamber - Grow Local Go Local, Festival of Trees, and the Wetzel County CVB itself. GLGL and Wetzel County CVB each became entities themselves, while the Friends of Wetzel County took the Festival of Trees under its umbrella last year.

Thomas said the chamber wants to bring its focus to more business-related endeavors. For instance, the chamber is currently discussing the possibility of a black-tie function in 2019. This function would honor businesses and include a motivational speaker.

The chamber is also continuing its endeavor of bringing vocational programs to the county. More details on such programs are expected to be released in the coming weeks.

The chamber also regularly organizes Business After Hours, as well as Lunch & Learn programs.

And while the chamber's focus shifts to business and job-creation, it still holds ties to community events as well. The chamber is hosting its annual Community Awards event at the Mollohan Center on May 15. The event is perhaps the chamber's most popular event as it honors local residents and their accomplishments in business, education, and citizenship.

Other community events include the Pay it Forward, Christmas Parade, Christmas Activities, and Christmas Decoration Contest, while other business-related endeavors include Small Business Saturday promotions and Entrepreneur Pitch.

Residents are also urged to mark their calendars for June 7, the chamber's second State of Wetzel County breakfast. The event will be held at Genesis Healthcare's New Martinsville center. The cost is $10 per person, and the event will feature the following speakers: Lisa Heasley, Wetzel County Commissioner; Larry Tackett, WVNCC Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development; Jerry Mullins, Westlake Plant Manager; Jason Hamman, Economic Development Director for Monroe County, Ohio; Charles Clements, WV State Senator.

And in other chamber developments, Thomas stated the chamber has become an endorsing organization for the Chamber Association Benefit Plan, which may offer lower Health Plan premiums.

Businesses or organizations that are members of the chamber are eligible to apply for the Health Plan insurance through Wetzel Valley Agencies or City Wide Insurance, to enroll employees for health care at a group rate.

And while the chamber just finished assisting Senator Joe Manchin's career fair at Paden City High School, Thomas said the chamber would also be sponsoring the New Martinsville Job Fair, to be held at New Martinsville United Methodist Church on June 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Those interested in any of the chamber's programs and offerings are asked to call the chamber at 304-455-3825, or e-mail



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