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Discover the Appalachian Arts Scene of Advantage Valley, WV

Advantage Valley’s diverse arts scene offers a rich tapestry of experiences.

By Lindsey Hyde on October 31, 2022

Musician Barry Frazee performs for the crowd in the outdoor courtyard at The Market in downtown Huntington, West Virginia. Huntington is located in the Advantage Valley region of West Virginia.
Jeff Adkins

Advantage Valley is humming with activity. From its eclectic food and beverage scene to its can’t-miss events and beautiful artistic attractions, this region is the perfect place to experience the best of Appalachian culture.

Musician Barry Frazee performs for the crowd in the outdoor courtyard at The Market in downtown Huntington, West Virginia. Huntington is located in the Advantage Valley region of West Virginia.
Jeff Adkins

Dine + Drink

Advantage Valley’s dining and drink establishments go bold when it comes to flavor, often adding a unique spin to traditional favorites. 1010 Bridge, for example, is an Appalachian-inspired restaurant in Charleston that serves up delectable dishes like bacon-wrapped dates, crispy fried “Nashville hot” oysters and fried banana bread pudding.

“It’s utilizing the heritage, the hospitality and the natural resources that we have here in West Virginia to create something,” says owner Paul Smith, who also owns Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream in Charleston and The Pitch Sports Bar & Grill in Dunbar.

As for beverages, locals love sipping beers like Appalachian Bandido or Fist Bump IPA at The Peddler in Huntington or Blarney Fife at Fife Street Brewing in Charleston.

Chris Gosses

Fun Festivals

While Advantage Valley hosts a calendar full of entertaining events, one, in particular, produces rave reviews. The Charleston Sternwheel Regatta is a citywide river and music festival that began in 1971. Centered on sternwheel races, the once one-day event grew into a giant multiday festival held over Labor Day weekend every year until 2009. After a 13-year hiatus, the event came back with a bang in 2022, drawing 210,000 people to the Capital City and generating over $31.5 million in economic impact. Held this time around the Fourth of July for five days, the regatta featured the beloved sternwheel races, national music performances, carnival rides, family-friendly activities, food and much more.

“It’s fun for a lot of residents to attend because they have all of those regatta memories, the good times, and I think we brought a lot of young people in because they’ve heard stories from their moms or dads or grandparents, but the great thing about it is there’s absolutely something for everyone,” says Jane Bostic, special assistant to the mayor of Charleston.

After such great success, the mayor and the Charleston Sternwheel Regatta Commission have already announced dates for a 2023 festival. It will be held from June 30 through July 4.

“I think our goal is to have a great event that is better next year,” Bostic says.

Kathy Mattea performs at Mountain Stage, which is located in the Advantage Valley region of West Virginia.
Christopher Morris

Arts All Around

The arts, from visual to performing, can be experienced throughout Advantage Valley — and they do not disappoint.

Residents can enjoy performances by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Huntington Symphony Orchestra and bask in the sounds created by seasoned and emerging artists at Mountain Stage. As the home of live music on public radio, Mountain Stage’s weekly two-hour episodes are recorded in front of a live audience and heard on more than 280 radio stations across the U.S.

“(Mountain Stage) captures the magic that happens between a performer and their audience and creates a virtual place for artists to be exposed to a wider group of people,” says Kathy Mattea, host of the show.

As for visual art, locals love Charleston’s Heritage Towers Museum and Culture Center, as its exhibits share the rich history and culture of Black individuals from West Virginia. Plus, the Huntington Museum of Art is home to a permanent collection of more than 16,000 pieces, 10 exhibition spaces, an interactive education gallery, an art reference library and much more.

People on the New Falcon in the Advantage Valley region of West Virginia.
Gary Wendell

As for venues that offer a little bit of both, Charleston’s new Slack Plaza is equipped with a performance stage for hosting live music, yet it’s also adorned with colorful statues of banjo and fiddle players. And the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences of West Virginia hosts Broadway shows and performances by well-known and emerging musicians. In addition, its Juliet Art Museum is known for its incredible traveling exhibits and permanent collection.

“The Clay Center is all about art, entertainment and education,” Bostic says. “You can’t beat that. I mean, it hits on everybody.”

If you’d like to learn more about the Advantage Valley region, check out the latest edition of Livability: Advantage Valley, West Virginia

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