Mardis Gras Comes To Sistersville
It may be snowing now, but on March 19 and 20 it will be “Raining Sisters” in Sistersville as the 11th annual Sisters Fest will take place with a Mardis Gras theme.
The theme was chosen by last year’s attendees and the tag line was added by the Sisters Fest committee to play up the Mardis Gras tradition of second line parades. The second line consists of followers of the main parade who walk alongside the action. Often they twirl a parasol or handkerchief in the air to show their appreciation.
For a few years Sisters Fest attendees have wanted to hold a parade in Sistersville, but not until this year has it been a reality. The parade is being planned for 4:30 p.m. on that Saturday. The “sisters” will gather at the Sistersville Elks Lodge, the hub of Sisters Fest, then parade up Charles Street, then turn north on Wells Street, ending at the Sistersville Post Office. Innocent bystanders in town probably won’t know what to think when they see all the enthusiastic women in colorful, gaudy outfits carrying embellished umbrellas. The umbrellas will be judged and a winner will be announced at the banquet.
At the conclusion of the parade the women will gather on the steps of the post office for the annual group photo. Then they’ll travel back to the Elks for the always enjoyable banquet at 6 p.m.
The banquet will be catered by the Elks Lodge and feature the King Cake tradition of Mardis Gras and a live jazz band. The banquet will conclude with recognition of contest winners and door prize drawings. Only those present at the banquet can win door prizes.
Of course the banquet is only the end of a two-day long celebration of sisterhood, or just friendship.
“The idea for Sisters Fest came, of course, from the town’s name. The original concept was for sisters to enjoy some time together, but it has grown to include women in general,” said Betsy Westfall, a committee member. “We have some friends who attend together. We have some mother-daughter pairs. Sometimes we even have women who come alone and find it is easy to make friends at Sisters Fest; they fit right in.”
All of the fun commences in earnest at 6 p.m. March 19 when there will be dessert and appetizer contests in the ballroom at the Elks Lodge.
“We have had both dessert contests and appetizer contests. They were both great, but for some attendees there were downfalls to both. So we decided, ‘Why not have them both?’ That should make everyone happy!”
Attendees get to sample the creations and vote on their favorites. Prizes are given at the banquet. Also, participants are encouraged to bring the recipes and they will be put on www.sistersfest.com after the weekend.
Following the food and fun, including some mixer games to help attendees get to know each other better, the variety show will begin on the ballroom stage at 7:30 p.m. Sister groups get up their nerve to take the stage at the Elks and sing a song, do a skit, etc. Some are serious, but most are comical. There is no judging or prizes, just fun and entertainment.
While it is not officially part of Sisters Fest, attendees are welcome to take part in karaoke, hosted by Carman Harman in the Elks bar, as the Elks has agreed to make all the “sisters” honorary members for the weekend.
Saturday morning begins with a pancake breakfast, 8:30-10:30 a.m., that includes pancakes, sausage, bacon, etc. All proceeds will go to the Sistersville Volunteer Fire Department whose volunteers will be cooking and serving.
While you enjoy the good food, at 9:30 a.m. the annual time for a game show will begin. The return of ‘Sister Squabble!’, patterned after Family Feud, will entertain attendees.
Once again Dan and Linda Marrin have opened their Durham Mansion for a luncheon and tour beginning at 12:30 p.m. There will not be a hat contest, as there has at the tea in years past. However, attendees are encouraged to bring old eyeglasses for donation to the Lions Club Women who will be serving the luncheon.
The afternoon will be filled with a scavenger hunt around Sistersville, giving attendees a chance to figure out clues and enjoy the sights of the historic town. They may even learn a bit about its history in the process. This event begins at 2 p.m. Clues will be given at the Elks ballroom.
In-person registration will begin Friday at 5 p.m. and they are strongly encouraging pre-registration. In fact, those with paid registrations by March 1 will be entered into a drawing to win a digital camera.
The cost to attend Sisters Fest is done on an a la carte basis with all attendees required to pay a $7 registration fee. After that the fee is based on what events sisters want to attend. The appetizer contest, variety show, and game show are included in the registration, but additional charges are levied for breakfast, $5; luncheon, $10; and banquet, $14. “Where else can you have a weekend of fun with your sister and/or friends for only $36.00, which includes three meals, four if you count the appetizers for dinner on Friday night?” asks Westfall.
Registrations may be mailed to Sisters Fest, P.O. Box 132, Sistersville, WV 26175.
For more information about Sisters Fest visit www.sistersfest.com or www.myspace.com/sistersfest; e-mail email@example.com, or call Betsy Westfall at 304-771-8699.