FestivALL draws big crowds despite heat
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The more than 80-degree heat didn't prevent people from turning out in droves Saturday for some of FestivALL's opening-weekend events. People milled around along Capitol Street, up and down Kanawha Boulevard and across the West Side to take part in the staples of the weeklong festival.
Even zombies made an appearance Saturday. Bailey Henderson, 11, picked them as the theme of her booth at the Smoke on the Water Chili Cook-Off.
To accompany the green chili being served, she had concocted "zombie brains" -- a mixture of cherry Jell-O and sour gummy worms. She'd donned white face paint and a tattered black dress for the occasion and ran fake blood through her blonde hair.
"I like scary stuff," Henderson said. She said she hadn't seen many frightening themes at other stands, and she wanted to make the booth "pretty unique."
As passers-by strolled Kanawha Boulevard, Henderson hollered to them, asking if they wanted to try the chili.
Tara Novick and Tony Pierro, South Charleston residents who were running the booth, said their chili included cumin, ground chicken, salsa verde and lime. This was their second go at the cook-off.
"We didn't place last year," Novick said, "but we had a lot of fun."
Kevin Carr of Charleston and his daughters stood in front of the booth, finishing samples of red chili from a different stand.
But when Sara Carr, 12, went to grab her tasting cup from her dad, it was already empty.
"I wouldn't say I ate it," the girls' father said with a smile. "I can't account for it."
As his daughters stepped up to the zombie booth to grab their cups of white chili, Carr warned that the girls are tough critics.
Lindsay Carr, 9, returned with a gummy brain in one hand and chili in the other. She decided she liked the chili because of the bites of chicken scattered through it.
And when Sara put the spoonful of chili in her mouth, her eyes widened, and she nodded her head. She said she normally prefers red chili, but she enjoyed this, too.
"This is, like, the perfect temperature and spice," she said.
'That hill is unbelievable'
John and Sallie Usher were driving back to Ohio from a beach vacation in South Carolina when they heard about FestivALL's five-mile race on the radio.
They were about an hour outside Charleston and decided the city - and the race - would be a good stopping point on their trip.
The couple and their 11-year-old son checked into the Marriott on Friday and bought running shoes for John.
Saturday morning, they completed the Charleston Area Medical Center "Run For Your Life" Five Mile Race.
Sallie finished in about 43 minutes, and John and their son finished in about an hour.
The thing that stuck out most to Sallie about the course, which begins at Haddad Riverfront Park and follows Court Street, was the steep climb up to Spring Hill Cemetery.
"That hill is unbelievable," she said.
The Ushers joined about 160 other runners, said Gail Pitchford, president of the CAMC Foundation.
Pitchford said the hill is the only one in the race, and it's about a mile and a quarter into the course. The rest of the run is downhill.
"When you get to the top," she said, "it's a good sense of accomplishment."
Wiener dogs gone wild
Not only did Zippy, a 12-year-old wiener dog, cross the finish line first in the Senior Division category of Saturday's West Side Wiener Dog Race, none of his competitors made it even halfway down the track. The appropriately named dachshund from Marion County entered the sixth annual race for the first time, said his owner, Yvonne Haldeman Moyer.
"He's always been fast," Moyer said, "that's how he got his name."
Held at Stonewall Jackson Middle School on Charleston's West Side, wiener dogs competed in a costume contest and a fetch competition while their owners eagerly cheered them on.
Zippy was dressed as a hot dog to "go with the obvious costume," Moyer said. Other dogs donned sunglasses, miniature surfboards, crowns and fairy wings. Other dogs dressed as a firefighter, a baseball player and a shark. Harley-Davidson, West Virginia University and the Olympics were other themes the wiener dogs wore during the event.
To beat the heat, wiener dogs splashed in baby pools while owners fanned their panting pups. About 80 dogs raced in groups based on age: puppy, senior and two adult divisions, 1- to 5-year-olds and 5- to 9-year-olds, said Libby Ballard, director of the West Side Wiener Dog Race.
The Kanawha County Spay and Neuter Task Force, veterinarians and a pet fortuneteller answered dog-related questions.
Zombies, pirates and art, oh my
For the third year in a row, Bill Kimmons announced every float, street performance and movable artwork that glided down Capitol Street in the Art Parade. Zombies, pirates and dogs in tutus walked from the corner of Kanawha Boulevard and Capitol Street to the Capitol Market during the third annual Art Parade.
Kimmons, who emceed the parade from in front of Taylor Books, said this year was the best year for the parade.
Hundreds of people lined Capitol Street as live music, ballerinas and folks on stilts entertained onlookers.
Kanawha City resident Catherine Jones attended the Art Parade for the first time with her 7-year-old son, Clever Brown.
"I'm impressed seeing how Charleston has become more of a cultural focus," Jones said. "I like that."
Brown's favorite Art Parade spectacle was the zombies in pig masks, carrying chainsaws for Porkchopp 3D, an independent West Virginia horror film.
While other performers tossed candy, the fake-blood-covered zombies threw beef jerky to the crowd.
A musical break from the heat
Paul Callicoat sang about guitars, greed and not giving up during his performance at Music-Works 2012 held at Capitol Roasters.
The 59-year-old strummed his guitar as he sang in front of a small crowd at the coffee shop on Summers Street. Ten performers sang their own songs during the music session.
Callicoat wore a T-shirt, blue jeans and small round glasses that resembled those of late Beatle John Lennon. FestivALL visitors sat at small tables as they enjoyed a break from the outside heat.
'Art can happen anywhere'
Gwendolyn Timbrell, 3, balanced a pink clipboard on her lap and poised a mechanical pencil on a blank pad of paper.
"I'm going to draw a lion," she said, as she began to scribble the animal's paws onto the white page.
Gwendolyn, from Nitro, was one of about a dozen participants drawing at the Lee Street Triangle during an afternoon session of Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School.
Vorel Sarkany, from the Charleston area, was the first model up. She wore a "kitty cat" mask, featuring an ornate gold design intermixed with bars of music, a tail made from a gold scarf and a black corset.
For her first pose, she sat on a black stool, resting one of her high heels on the chair's rung.
Sarkany, who was celebrating her one-year anniversary of modeling, said the best part of the job is seeing the completed drawings and figuring out which ones are of her.
Some are gorgeous, she said, and easy to recognize. Others are "more open.
"But you can still tell," she said.
After Sarkany abandoned the stool to wrap her body around a nearby tree, Gwendolyn hopped up from her bench, took her clipboard and plopped on the ground in front of the model.
A few minutes later, Gwendolyn bounded back to her dad, holding up her picture and shouting, "Elephant!"
Chase Henderson, the creative director of the school, said the purpose of the drawing event is to liven up the approach to live-figure drawing and put more emphasis on the model.
"We believe art can happen anywhere," he said.
FestivALL 2012 kicked off Friday and continues until June 24.
Reach Alison Matas at email@example.com or 304-348-5100.
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