Sisters Just Wanna Have Fun

For 14 years, the ladies of Sistersville have been gathering for a weekend of girl time in honor of the town’s founding sisters.


Photographed by Jess Martin Photography

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Cyndi Lauper will belt out, “When the working day is done, girls just wanna have fun,” and the beats of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” will raise energy levels. Mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends will don their leg warmers, big earrings, and maybe even blue eye shadow. Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” will entice everyone to dust off their dance moves and take the stage in parachute pants and mini skirts, hair pulled high into side ponytails and fastened with scrunchies as if it’s the 1980s.

Only this celebration will take place in 2013 as the ladies of Sistersville gather for the 14th annual Sisters Fest. Held each year around St. Patrick’s Day, sisters, family, and friends gather in this historic Tyler County town to honor its founding when Charles Wells settled in the area in the early 19th century. The land he owned became the town of Sistersville in 1839, named in honor of his daughters, Sarah and Deliah—the 18th and 19th of his nearly two dozen children, who helped with the town’s original planning and design.

What started in 1999 as a celebration with a couple dozen ladies has grown to a party of more than 100 women ages 16 and up. “We all love our boys, our husbands, and kids,” says Dawn Wilson, who’s attended all but one Sisters Fest. “But this is our time to just be girls. It’s so laidback. We’re all there to have fun and not to judge each other.” This year’s event on March 15 and 16, 2013, will feature the usual favorites—the appetizer and dessert contest and variety show, breakfast and a banquet at the Elks, a luncheon at the country club, the How Well Do You Know Your Sister? game show, and of course, the parade down Wells Street and a group photo on the post office steps—as well as a cornhole tournament and bingo in the ballroom sponsored by the Sistersville General Hospital’s Relay for Life team. “It’s like a big slumber party for grown-ups,” says Amy Witschey, one of the original members of the Sisters Fest planning committee. “It’s just silly fun. Women love it and really love sharing it with others.”

From teenage daughters to generations of nieces, great-nieces, aunts, cousins, and even ladies in their 80s, Sisters Fest is a homecoming for many women, whether they are true sisters reuniting in their hometown or simply close friends coming from as many as 17 states. For an $8 registration fee, ladies can participate in the contest, variety show, cornhole tournament, game show, and parade, and for minimal additional charges, they enjoy the Saturday breakfast, luncheon, banquet, and bingo.

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