Belpre plans homecoming kick off for Thursday

BELPRE – The 82nd annual Belpre Homecoming Festival is less than a week away with opening ceremonies planned for 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

“We have a big kick-off planned and are just waiting for the dates to roll around,” said Karen Waller, executive director of the Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce. “We just hope the weather cooperates.”

Headlining music performers for all three nights – Thursday, Aug. 1, and Aug. 2 – were chosen months ago and will take the stage each evening of the festival.

“Entertainment was nailed in February and we are excited about all of the acts,” said Waller. “The Thursday night kick-off is really exciting.”

The chamber organized the homecoming weekend and chose the dates to give people a break before the Parkersburg Homecoming two weeks later. The homecoming traditionally has local and national music acts of all genres performing throughout the Thursday through Saturday event.

The headlining act for the weekend will be Hotel California, A Salute to the Eagles, which will perform on the main stage in Belpre’s Civitan Park Thursday beginning at 8:30 p.m.

The band, composed of music industry professionals, presents a show to salute the music of The Eagles, the now classic rock supergroup.

“A lot of people are excited that the Eagles will be playing in Belpre to go along with the schools’ mascot,” Waller said. “I have had many people come up to me and say it’s great to have The Eagles’ music here.”

Not only will Hotel California showcase popular songs by The Eagles, but also titles from solo careers of the band’s members Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh.

For Youth Night on Friday, country performer Tristen Smith, a St. Clairsville, Ohio, native, will take the stage. He won the Jamboree USA Star Quest competition at the age of 12 and became the youngest performer at Jamboree in the Hills, performing in front of more than 60,000 people.

At 20 years old, Smith is a good age to attract the younger members of the homecoming audience, Waller said.

This will be the third year, the three-day event will have the adult chamber members work with the youth chamber for the weekend with the “Healthy Youth and Families” program.

Waller said the adult chamber members are using the annual event to help teach the younger generation what goes into putting on a program.

“The Belpre Youth Chamber has been very involved in organizing Friday night this year,” she said. “I don’t think they realized how much work putting on homecoming takes.”

Waller added that the youth chamber members have organized and will head-up games and other activities for the evening.

“With Tristen Smith performing a young country artist with a message for kids I believe we have a good youth-oriented night planned,” she said.

On the final night, up-and-coming country singer/songwriter Zach Paxon will take the stage with his hit “Ohio,” a tribute to the state.

“So, this year’s homecoming will have an Eagles night, youth night and Ohio celebration night,” Waller said.

As always, this year’s homecoming will also feature carnival rides, inflatables and other entertainment.

There will be local musical performers opening for the headliners. These include Belpre locals Brooks and Ivey, High Schools that Rock and the Jody Haught Band.

“The committee was sensitive of the need to showcase local talent,” Waller said.

Along with entertainment, the weekend will include the parade, amusement rides, mile walk and run and car show.