Feta, Fests, and Fun

Huntington, WV has a lot to offer, folks, but this past week was a superb showcase of the very best, centered around three of my favorite Huntington events: Huntington Music and Arts Festival, Greek Fest, and PATH to the Cure (I mentioned a few of these in my last post about Fall 2015). It's a lot to pack into one week, sure, but it was a fun-filled, fulfilling week. Here's a look back at what I lovingly refer to as "the most wonderful time of the year" (no offense to Christmas):

Huntington Music and Arts Festival
HMAF, an homage to local art and music, went all out this year, with events nearly every single day of the week, culminating in the actual festival on Saturday.

Tuesday (9/22) was "Art on the Edge," an art show held at West Edge, a former textile factory-turned arts hub. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were so many local artists in the area and that they were all able to converge at West Edge. The variety of art was fantastic - ranging from single-line drawings, prints, woodwork, paintings, etc. My favorite piece was a gold canvas covered in golden bullets, but everything was interesting! If it's not a craft that Pinterest gives me step-by-step directions for, my artistic ability is lacking, so I have a huge respect for people who can start with a blank slate and create something so outstanding. The event also featured a fire-blower that I missed - bummer - but the event was overall a creative success in my opinion. Wednesday (9/23) featured a film-viewing at West Edge, which I sadly didn't get to attend. However, I look forward to future HMAF and other arts-related events at West Edge!

Photo by Nikki Mullins

There was a pre-party on Thursday (9/24) at Pullman Square that I also missed, but I made it to the other pre-party at the VClub that featured artists with Twin Cousins Records, including my favorite local band, Coyotes in Boxes. Coyotes in Boxes' lyrics are thoughtful, and their sound is cohesive and unique, which results in a lineup of catchy songs you'll have stuck in your head for days...but you certainly won't mind it. Be sure to check out my favorite Coyotes song, "Rocking Horse Winner." I brought my friend Nikki with me to the VClub pre-party, and she became a Coyotes in Boxes fan that evening. Friday (9/25) also featured yet another pre-party at Heritage Station and open mic at the Lantern (I missed those, too...I need to pick up the slack) to get everyone in Huntington geared and ready to go for Saturday's festival.

The festival itself on Saturday (9/26) was a day-long affair, starting at 11:30 in the morning and wrapping up at 11 p.m. (with, of course, an after-party at the VClub). The street outside of the amphitheater was lined with local artists displaying their work. There were also a number of food vendors, with my favorite being Bittersweet Coffeehouse and their s'mores waffles. I was so excited to consume it that I forgot to photograph it. Suffice to say, it was a thing of delicious beauty. The festival also features an impressive lineup of local and regional music from a wide range of genres.
Sasha Colette and the Magnolias
Because I split my Saturday between HMAF & Greek Fest on Saturday, I didn't get to see all of the acts. Those that I saw, though, were excellent. Sasha Colette and the Magnolias put on a great set. They simultaneously have a bluesy and country vibe, and Sasha Colette has one heck of a voice. Their set was sassy and entertaining, for sure. Angela Perley and the Howlin' Moons also had an interesting set; their music has a dangerous, mysterious element to it which draws in the listener. In one song, Angela Perley actually played a hand-saw, which spiced up the event. Acoustic acts performed in between each plugged-in set, and Jordan Andrew Jefferson and The Shadowshaker Band stood out, thanks to their lyricism and overall quality of sound. I unfortunately missed the bands that performed later in the day but heard that Rozwell Kid, Tyler Childers, and Ona were absolutely stellar.
Angela Perley's magic saw
Overall,  my first experience with HMAF was outstanding. It brought many new local artists and musicians to my attention and taught me that I need to attend every single event during the festival next year.

Greek Festival
St. George's Greek Orthodox Church hosts a yearly three-day festival (Friday through Sunday) to celebrate the Grecian culture. There is a bounty of food, drinks, and dancing! If you're a fan of lamb, feta, & olives, Greek Fest is the place for you. There are lots of lines - there's no getting around that fact - but the wait is always worth it, especially if there's a Greek Pizza or an Almond Crescent at the end of it.

Huntingtonians take the pastry line seriously, because St. George's only makes so many pastries for the entire weekend. When those pastries are gone, they're gone. Also, those pastries are absolutely mouthwatering. They're quite rich, and many of them contain honey, nuts, and phyllo (the dough used for Greek pastries). The fact that they're only available once a year makes them especially precious. I really can't speak highly enough of Greek Fest's pastries, and I've never met a person who had anything negative to say about them.

Greek Fest also features Greek dance performances throughout the day, consisting mainly of youth who attend the church. I got video footage of one dance, above, and it's clear that the dancers have put in a lot of practice and don't hold back when it's performance time. Greek dancing seems to include a lot of circles and semi-circles, jumping, and stomping, and it's all very well-executed.

Because I have an obsession with and deep love for Greek Fest, I attended two of the three days. Yes, I did get pastries both days; I have no shame. The atmosphere is welcoming with a strong sense of community, and I love everything about it. OPA!

PATH to the Cure
Sunday's usually a day of rest, right? Not on when it's time for PATH to the Cure, a 5K walk/run focused on breast cancer awareness and prevention. All of the proceeds from the event go toward helping women with little-to-no health insurance receive services as well as the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health. PATH definitely focused on health, wellness, and celebrating breast cancer survivors - all worthy causes.

Look at that turnout! There were even more people behind us.
Tadd's employer is always involved with PATH, so we participate in the event each year by walking the 5K. Every year, PATH grows in size, with more and more participants; there were 2,200 participants this year! Everyone wears pink, and many people are on teams with catchy names (Tits and Giggles was a popular team this year). PATH is essentially Huntington's coolest party with the best cause, and it gets increasingly exciting with each year.

In a nutshell, that was my week, the most amazing week. I always wait for the week of HMAF, Greek Fest, and PATH with much anticipation, and I am already excited for what 2016 has to bring.

What local events get you pumped, Hipsters? Comment below!

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