Belleville Homecoming Festival basks in the sun

Dave Francis, a member of the Wood County Flywheelers, works on one of the engines he had on display Sunday at the Belleville Homecoming Festival. (Photo by Wayne Towner)

BELLEVILLE — Warm weather and a strong Saturday night lineup helped bring one of the largest turnouts in years to the Belleville Homecoming Festival this weekend.

The three-day festival featured entertainment, activities and attractions at the Belleville Community Center on West Virginia 68 South at Belleville in southern Wood County.

Belleville Homecoming president Debra Buckley said the Saturday lineup, especially the evening concert by longtime country group Shenandoah and the annual fireworks drew one of the largest crowds she can recall. A rough estimate by organizers put the attendance at 900 to 1,000 people.

“I think it surpassed any crowd we’ve ever had, Shenandoah did. They did a good job and we had a lot of compliments on them. Everybody just loved them. We’re hoping to surprise everybody next year and we’re already working on the entertainment for next year. We’ve got a name in mind,” she said.

Because of Saturday’s turnout, Buckley said gate admissions for the weekend were up which helps with next year’s homecoming.

Truck owners pitted their vehicles against each other during the annual truck pull Sunday at the Belleville Homecoming Festival. (Photo by Wayne Towner)

The goal of the Belleville Homecoming is to provide a place and opportunity for friends and family to gather and to enjoy entertainment, games and historical exhibits. The history of the Belleville community and its residents also plays a key role in each year’s festival. An entire room of the Belleville Community Center is devoted to pictures from the area’s past and its former residents.

Buckley said the homecoming’s traditional elements remain popular, including the history room, culinary and canning exhibits and heritage demonstrations. However, they also try to bring in new things each year, especially for the children.

This year’s homecoming included additions like cartoon characters, an inflatable haunted maze and laser tag, all of which proved very popular, she said.

“The laser tag has been immensely popular with the kids, especially after dark (Saturday night). They really enjoyed that,” she said.

In keeping with the historical and heritage aspect of the Belleville Homecoming, Dave Francis, a member of the Wood County Flywheelers, had a pair of antique engines and a steam tractor on display and operating. He comes to the Belleville event every year.

Louella Powell, center, demonstrates rug making to Marilyn Schroeder, left, and Brianna Schroeder, right, at the Belleville Homecoming Festival on Sunday. (Photo by Wayne Towner)

“They’ve had a good crowd this year, I like it down here, I’m local,” he said.

Francis also plans to bring his engines to Mountwood Park this coming weekend for the Volcano Days Antique Engine Show and Festival on Friday through Sunday.

As an outgrowth of the homecoming, the first Humphrey and Belleville School Reunion will be 1 p.m. Nov. 3 at the community center on W.Va. 68, which is the former Humphrey School. All former students, teachers, aides, cooks and janitors are welcome to attend.

Wayne Towner can be reached at wtowner@newsandsentinel.com

A tractor rodeo was featured Sunday at the Belleville Homecoming Festival. (Photo by Wayne Towner)