PARKERSBURG - The Parkersburg Homecoming started off with some country beats during the Texaco Country Showdown on Friday.
Randall Roberts, president of the Parkersburg Homecoming Committee, said the festival was running smoothly at the start of the first night.
"Everything is going great so far," Roberts said.
Jason Michael Carroll performs while Andrew Dickson plays the drums during the opening night of the Parkersburg Homecoming Friday. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
Texaco Country Showdown winner Krista Hughes of Coal City, representing WTNJ of Beckley, performs during Friday's competition during opening night of the Parkersburg Homecoming. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
Jason Wright of Beverly sits with a guitar on which he has been collecting autographs for the last eight years. Wright said he is going to pass the guitar down to his 7-year-old daughter, Madison. He had 25 autographs on the guitar before Friday, collecting the signature of Jason Michael Carroll before the start of the show. The guitar's first signature, according to Wright, came from Brad Paisley 'right here at homecoming.' (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
People attending the first night of the annual Parkersburg Homecoming walk along Second Street Friday evening. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
Brittany Fox of Parkersburg performs “Last Name” by Carrie Underwood during the Texaco Country Showdown West Virginia finals Friday night. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
The nice weather was helpful in getting the festivities started.
Brittany Fox, a local 23-year-old singer, lit up the stage with her rendition of country tunes. The Parkersburg native said she has been singing since first grade and does it as a hobby.
"I just enjoy doing it; singing is like my release and comfort zone," Fox said before her performance Friday night.
Fox said she won the showdown in 2009 but the spotlight this year went to a girl from the small town of Coal City, W.Va.
Krista Hughes, 16, started playing the guitar at 4 years old and singing at age 6. She said she likes more traditional country tunes and tries to put some into the songs she writes.
Hughes also won the 2013 Local Texaco Country Showdown sponsored by WTNJ in Beckley, W.Va.
"I'm shocked; thank you," Hughes said to the judges after hearing she had won the Texaco Country Showdown Friday night.
Bev and Rod Webber of Parkersburg said they came to the homecoming festival to get the delicious fair food. Bev said the pair were curious to see "what was going on."
They are usually away on vacation (to Bristol Motor Speedway) when the festival is held and haven't been able to attend for several years.
"This is the first year we've been out here for a while," Ron Webber said. "We're usually at Bristol this week but they changed (the date)."
Homecoming events today and Sunday will see many uniformed officers stationed throughout the city, police said. Not only will police be a strong presence during the half marathon today, but they will be on standby along with members of the fire department during tonight's fireworks.
Wood County deputies and West Virginia State Police troopers will be located throughout the city, officials said.
The Little Kanawha and Ohio rivers will be patrolled by the Division of Natural Resources and Parkersburg Fire Department. Police will patrol the festivities on bicycles, police Chief Joe Martin said.
"Safety for the public is a high priority," Martin said.
In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the command center set up at Second and Avery streets to report criminal activity. The public can call the city police department at 304-424-8444 for a non-emergency problem.
* News & Sentinel Half Marathon at 8 a.m.
* Grand Parade at noon.
* Pressley Ridge Ice Cream Challenge from 1-5 p.m
* Square Dancing at 7 p.m. at Second and Juliana streets.
* Zumba Dancing at 2 p.m.
* Pioneer Antique Car Club car show at 5 p.m. on Market Street.
* Model Railroad Club Open House 10 a.m. -4 p.m. at 601 Green St.