Taste of Parkersburg
This celebration of food and wine draws thousands to the area each year.
Photographed by Carla Witt Ford
Two men sit at a table discussing their golden-colored craft beers. A woman cradles a glass of wine and strolls over to a dessert vendor where a young couple is purring about the chocolate mousse cake. You might never guess such a buzz of activity would take place in a parking lot. In Parkersburg, the historic Blennerhassett Hotel is usually the center of attention, but for one weekend a year the hotel’s parking lot draws more visitors than its luxurious accommodations as part of Taste of Parkersburg. Tents and tables fill with festivalgoers celebrating a dizzying array of libations and culinary treats.
The annual event is organized by Downtown PKB—a community revitalization program that promotes the historic and economic redevelopment of downtown Parkersburg. Since the event began in 2006, Taste of Parkersburg has inspired food, wine, and beer lovers throughout the region, giving attendees a chance to sample fare from across the state, discover new wines and wineries, and enjoy live music.
Downtown PKB’s annual Taste of Parkersburg (TOP) event features local food, wine, and beer vendors as well as international wine distributors, drawing approximately 2,000 people to the parking lot on the corner of Third and Market streets in downtown Parkersburg. “We have people come from Pittsburgh, Ohio, Florida, and all over West Virginia. For some families it’s a tradition for everyone to come back and go to the event together each year,” says Carrie Nesselrode, executive director of Downtown PKB.
In past years, guests chose from da Vinci’s German pizza with sauerkraut, Nutella-filled chocolate cake from Hometown Cakes, or chicken quesadillas from Tampico Mexican Restaurant & Cantina. While the food vendors are local, the approximately 20 wine vendors include distributors from West Virginia and all across the country, offering everything from the sweetest Moscato to the driest Chardonnay. “We want to celebrate local restaurants and expose locals to wines from around the world,” Carrie says. “In the past we’ve had wines from Asia, Argentina, France, Napa Valley, and several from West Virginia.”
The event is a great opportunity for wine distributors, says Chris Jones, director of education and the fine wine manager for Galaxy Distributing of West Virginia. “It’s a fantastic event,” he says. “It’s fun to interact with people, taste wine, and tell about our products.” The wine vendors also make an effort to educate the attendees. “It’s great to get our brands out there, but it’s also about education—helping people understand more about wines,” Chris says.
A live jazz band entertains the crowd of revelers at TOP as the sun sets over Parkersburg. Once guests have filled their bellies with gourmet fare and fine wine they can sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds or make their way to the Parkersburg Art Center tent. There they can watch as an artist creates pottery, browse tables of handmade silver earrings and beaded necklaces, or purchase artisan-made calendars and prints. “It’s an opportunity to socialize and have a great time,” Carrie says. “It’s like a huge outdoor party with 2,000 of your closest friends. There’s nothing else like it in Parkersburg.”Taste of Parkersburg