The Times West Virginian

May 20, 2009

TRF: three days of excitement

By Debra Minor Wilson

FAIRMONT — Whether you like country, pop or magic, you will enjoy the entertainment at this year's Three Rivers Festival.

From now through Saturday night, Palatine Park will be a hub of music, laughter and excitement at the 30th annual festival.

The following entertainment will take place at the Palatine Park Main Stage and is free of charge.

Thursday, May 21

• 8 p.m. Alli Gillis

Friday, May 22

• 7 p.m. Josh Knotts, illusionist/magician

• 8 pm. No Bad JuJu

Saturday, May 23

• 4 p.m. Hollywood Bulldozer

• 8 p.m. Bon Journey

• 11 p.m. Fireworks. Palatine Park.

Ali Gillis, a 16-year-old country singer from the Pittsburgh area, is “up and coming,” said Joni Parrish, festival publications director.

“She will be big one day and we can say we had here first, back when.”

Like pop? (No, not the beverage … the music.) Then you’ll like Bon Journey, a hybrid tribute band that pays homage to Bon Jovi and Journey.

“They sound just like Bon Jovi and Journey,” Parrish said. “They are unbelievable.”

The 30th annual Three Rivers Festival kicks off tonight with the grande parade at 6:15 p.m. For the first time in years, all three high school marching bands – Fairmont Senior High School Polar Bear Marching Band, North Marion High School Husky Band and East Fairmont High School Busy Bee Band && Honeybees — will participate as the Honor Bands.

The feature band will be the Fair-Barr-Mann-Ongah Middle School Band, comprising students from Fairview, Barrackville, Mannington, and Monongah middle schools.

Parade marshals will be the North Marion High School girls state basketball championship team. Honorary parade marshal will be the Pittsburgh Pirates Parrot.

The parade begins at Fifth Street, continues down Fairmont Avenue, crosses the High Level Bridge and disbands at the festival at Palatine Park.

The festival float is a star and celebrity in its own right, having won top honors in the West Virginia Strawberry Festival in Buckhannon … coming away with both the Fairs and Festivals first place award and the King’s Choice Award.

“It has three waterfalls with actual moving water,” Parrish said. “It’s phenomenal. It’s pretty cool.”

For her, the parade is the draw to a festival.

“It brings people out. And we’ll be so close to the festival grounds. People can trickle in and buy things from the vendors and see the entertainment. All of our entertainment is free. We do not charge. We’re one of the few festivals that do that.

”You can have a fun evening Friday. Bring a lawn chair and listen to No Bad JuJu and not pay a penny.

Fireworks cap off the festival at 11 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s going to be a really good display. They have new fireworks in it,” Parrish said.

Have fun at the Pepperoni Roll Bake Off on Saturday.

“We’re getting so many applicants, it’s unbelievable. People are calling from Ohio and Pennsylvania. And with this just our third year, word spreading that far is pretty darn good.”

Myer’s Amusements will provide carnival fun and excitement through 10 p.m. Saturday.

With the festival marking its 30th year, some old favorite activities returned, such as the senior queen pageant and coloring contest for kids, Parrish said.

“A lot of the girls who were queens from years ago come back to help. Carol LaRue will do the opening ceremony for us. She was queen in 2005. They love coming back and helping. We get to be so close to them. They’re part of our family.”

Parrish became involved with the festival in 1995 when her daughter was on the minor court. She has served with several courts and now is secretary of the board of directors, and is director of school tours and publications.

E-mail Debra Minor Wilson at