PARKERSBURG - While the summer tourism season has drawn to a close, there are still many activities and attractions available in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
Local attractions reported a positive summer season in general, although the derecho which swept through the area on June 29 and later storms caused problems for many.
Dave McKain, director of the Oil and Gas Museum in downtown Parkersburg and Henderson Hall near Williamstown, said both locations are open year-round, but the summer tourism season is important for both attractions.
The Island Belle sternwheeler carried visitors between Point Park and Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park through the summer. Park officials reported positive attendance this year, despite problems caused by the late June storms.
McKain said attendance was down slighty during the past summer, mostly due to weather factors. It was a hot summer overall, which affected visitation, but the largest impact came from the derecho which struck the Mid-Ohio Valley and caused widespread power outages and damage which took days to restore and repair.
"That tore everything up, up there, for almost two weeks and kept a lot of people from coming around," McKain said.
"We've done well, but not as well as last year because of the weather. It's been dramatic," he said.
McKain said work is continuing to improve both attractions.
In general, Mark Lewis, president of the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the past summer was a positive one for area tourism. The CVB's figures showed hotel/motel stays were up and stayed up through the summer.
"That's always a positive indicator that people are out and about, traveling," he said.
Lewis said the Point Park Music Series in August was very successful in its first year. "Everybody had high hopes for it" but it was still good to see the strong and positive response, he said.
The area's fairs and festivals also saw good attendance through the summer.
"Other than that difficult time after the (June 29) storms, it was good," he said of the tourism season.
During this year, Lewis said the CVB offered its support to a couple of newer programs, the Thunder Road Madness motorcycle event in June and "Reflections of the Past" coming up in October, which will be "A Festival of Wood County's History and Heritage."
Lewis said Thunder Road suffered a bit this year due to adverse weather, but it has potential for growth. One of the outgrowths of the CVB's involvement in the event was the creation of a motorcycle tours brochure highlighting the local area and recommended motorcycle tours.
The brochures have proven very popular and "we're having trouble keeping them on the shelves," he said.
Looking ahead to the Reflections festival from Oct. 11-14 in and around downtown Parkersburg, Lewis is anticipating a positive response to the event.
"Reflections of the Past" will feature programs and tours at area museums and attractions, an architectural tour of the Julia-Ann Square Historic District, an antique car parade and cruise-in, a genealogy workshop and other activities.
"History and heritage is one of the strongest things we have in the Mid-Ohio Valley," he said.
At one of the valley's largest attractions, Pam Salisbury, spokesman for Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park, said attendance during the past summer was on par with previous years, with a slight increase in numbers. It was a good summer, although the island was also affected by the late June storms.
"We lost an entire week because of those storms," she said, due to concerns about safety from dangling limbs on the island and the general efforts to restore power and other services in the region affecting travel and vacation plans for many people.
The island gift shop sustained minor damage, but no other buildings on Blennerhassett Island were affected by the storm. However, debris left by fallen trees and limbs is still in the process of being cleaned up by park personnel, she said.
The last event of the 2012 season on Blennerhassett Island will be the Mansion by Candlelight on Oct. 12-13. While the island is closed during the fall and winter seasons, the Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History at Second and Juliana streets will remain open, with the next special event coming in December during the annual Heritage christmas tree display, she said.