Junior League remembers start of Harvest Moon Festival

From left, Sherry Ruehl Dugan, a past Junior League president, and her mother, Kit Ruehl, who was among the first chairs of the Harvest Moon Festival. The Junior League is celebrating its 95th year that will culmininate in an anniversary gala in February at the Blennerhassett Hotel. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — The Harvest Moon Festival in Parkersburg is in this month’s spotlight of the year-long celebration of the Junior League of Parkersburg’s 95th anniversary.

The Harvest Moon Festival began under the leadership of the Junior League 46 years ago on Sept. 14, 1963.

The first festival was held in the area of the Park Shopping Center. Opening ceremonies were held with Gov. Wally Barron and his wife officiating at the event that was set in a carnival-like atmosphere with a sidewalk cafe.

The juried craft show was held at City Park in the second year.

Kit Ruehl, Junior League emeritus, was among the early chairs of the event. She and Anne Bailey, who served as ticket chairman in 1965, developed the foundation for the Harvest Moon Festival today.

Under Ruehl’s leadership, the event offered chances on a mink stole from Dils Department Store as the grand prize. Admission to the festival was 25 cents. Banjo music and square dancing were offered with proceeds going to the Junior League Community Fund.

During the 95th anniversary celebration, the Junior League each month highlights projects and programs. After a project is researched and developed by the Junior League, it becomes a self-supporting entity.

The Junior League has been instrumental in the development of SW Resources, construction of the Emerson Avenue site of the Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library, The ARC, Westbrook, the Mid-Ohio Valley Fellowship Home for women, the Kids on the Block disability awareness project and two projects currently being completed — the City Park accessible playground and the newly opened Hope Recovery Manor.

The 95th anniversary celebration will culminate with the Anniversary Charity Ball in February at the Blennerhassett Hotel, Jane Burdette, past president, said. A live band, wine pull and silent auction are planned at the gala.

The Junior League is always seeking new members to join the nearly 100 women supporting the betterment of the area. Anyone interested can contact Priscilla Leavitt, Carmen Hathaway or any member.