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O&G Festival slated for weekend

By Staff | Sep 14, 2011

Frank Deem

Looking back in history, the oil boom days of Sistersville began in 1890. With this discovery, the quiet town of Sistersville grew in population with over 10,000 people seeking to strike it rich. This dream became a reality for some, as the Sistersville field produced some of the richest oil and gas wells in the United States.

To honor this heritage, a festival was organized to celebrate the oil and gas industry, past, present, and future. On Sept. 15-17 the West Virginia Oil and Gas Festival will celebrate 43 years of family fun, as sounds of gas engines and the pumping of “Little Sister Oil Well” will fill the airwaves.

The 2011 Oil and Gas Festival Queen, Marlee Sexton, will reign over the event.

This year, the festival’s Board of Directors has selected Frank Deem as the West Virginia Oil and Gas Man of the Year. Deem will be honored at a special luncheon Saturday, then serve as Parade Marshal for the 43rd Grand Oil and Gas Trophy Parade.

The oil and gas industry shaped Frank Deem’s life from an early age, when his family moved from small-town West Virginia to Argentina in 1931, where his father worked for Standard Oil of Bolivia. When the family returned to West Virginia in 1933, Deem’s father started his own oil and gas company. Growing up, Deem worked for his father in the oil fields, where he not only learned the business, he learned the meaning of hard work.

THE SOUNDS OF OPPORTUNITY — The sounds of gas engines will fill the air during the 43rd Annual Oil and Gas Festival Sept. 15-17.

Deem quit high school and joined the US Navy in 1945. After his service in the Navy he graduated from Harrisville High School. He then attended Marietta College, where he earned a degree in Petroleum in 1953. He continued his oil-related pursuits, managing a cable tool drilling rig (a task for which he was paid 50 cents per foot), and surveying well locations. He was eventually able to buy the rig he was managing and three other rigs.

During his time in the oil industry, Deem has done it all. In 1955 he was drilling wells for Dave Taylor, who later formed Alamco. He not only drilled six wells for Dave, through an agreement with Plymouth Oil, he also supervised the logging, fracturing, and turning of the wells into a pipeline. Dave later bought these wells and sold a half interest to Deem, who later bought the other half interest in the wells, which are still producing today.

In 1963, Deem designed and built a 9-hole grass green golf course in Harrisville, two miles from North Bend State Park. It is very much in use today.

During this time Deem also leased land in Ritchie County, drilling wells and selling fractional interests in most of the wells. This business has grown with the times. Currently, he owns and operates 262 wells in Ritchie, Doddridge, and Gilmer counties. In the past 10 years, he has drilled 40 five to six thousand foot wells. Deem employs Melinda Johnson, office manager, Ed Broom, engineer, Gregg Smith, surveying, permitting and reclamation, and Don Nestor accountant, in addition to Ron Nutt and his crew of six employees.

Deem was elected to the West Virginia Legislature in 1954, serving 44 years and setting a record as the longest serving legislator. Because of his knowledge of the oil and gas industry, he was able to foster and promote legislation to protect fresh water from oil and gas drilling. This legislation resulted in requiring the fresh water casing to be permanently cemented in the well. Since this legislation was passed, 45,000 new and oil and gas wells have been drilled, resulting in billions of dollars being spent by producers to protect our fresh water.

Deem and Becky, his wife of 21 years, currently live in Vienna. He and his wife attend the First Presbyterian Church, where Becky is a member of the Sessions Committee. Becky is retired from the Wood County school system, where she taught elementary education for over 30 years.

The couple has eight children, nine grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Deem is a member of the Ethics Commission for the State of West Virginia, an active member of Rotary, and a member of the Independent Oil and Gas Association.

He is proud to have been an active part of the oil and gas business, and proud that he has continued to actively support and promote the industry for over 50 years.

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The Gold Derrick Gallery Art Show, will host an exhibit and judging of original art to be held during the 2011 Oil and Gas Festival.

All work must be the original work of the submitting artist. Any artist living in the US may enter. Drawings and watercolors must be mounted. For maximum protection and preservation, plexiglas and frames are recommended. The exhibit assumes no responsibility for loss or damage of entries. Artwork not for sale must be labeled NFS. Work must have been done within three years of exhibit.

Divisions to be judged include: Senior Division (Amateur and Professional); Junior Division (14-18 years of age); Children’s Division (13 years and under).

Paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, etc., must be readied for show with appropriate matting, framing, etc., and be ready for display. An identifying card with name, address, or other contact information must be attached to the artwork.

Based on merit and authenticity, the following cash awards will be made for the following categories: First place Senior – $100; First Place Junior – $50; First Place Child – $25; Mayor’s Award – $25; People’s Choice Award – $25; and Best of Show – $125.

All participants will receive an Exhibitor’s Award ribbon. The festival will retain a 15 percent commission on any artwork sold during the event. Prizes will be awarded at the discretion of the judges. Judge’s final decisions are final.

For more information, contact Terry Wiley 304-652-1707.

The first day of the festival, Sept. 15, has been designated as senior citizen?s day. All seniors will be admitted free from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The schedule for the day includes an opening ceremony, Mt. State Bluegrass Express at 1 p.m., eighth annual gospel sing from 5:45 – 6:45 p.m., and a talent show at 7 p.m.

Anyone who would like to participate in performing Christian music please contact the Rev. Colleen Griffith at 304-652-5281.

Day two features the annual gas engine auction, Gib Morgan wrench throwing contest, and musical entertainment from 6:30-8:30 p.m., courtesy of Robert Hall.

The final day, Sept. 17, kicks off with the Oil and Gas Man of the Year luncheon (by invitation) and the Grand Oil and Gas Trophy parade at 1 p.m.

Featured in the parade is the Oil and Gas Man of the Year, who presides as parade marshal, and honored guests, bands, floats, marching units, horse units, and oil and gas equipment.

Following the parade, marching bands will travel to Tyler Consolidated for the annual Band-O-Rama competition. The bands to be featured include St. Marys High School, Hundred High School, Paden City High School, Wirt County High School, Valley High School, Williamstown High School, Magnolia High School, Parkersburg South High School, Liberty High School and George Washington High School.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Antique Car Club will be hosting the West Virginia Oil and Gas Festival Antique and Hot Rod & Custom Car show on Saturday at the practice field near the old Sistersville High School.

Registration will begin at 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. with the first fifty registered receiving a collectible dash plaque.The line-up for the parade will begin at 12:15 p.m.with the vehicles going first in the parade.

DJ Greg Goodfellow will be announcing the car owners as well as playing the oldies tunes and the trophy presentation at 3 p.m. Fenton bells will be awarded as well as the Best of Show Antique trophy and the Best of Show Hot Rod and Custom trophy.

Saturday will also feature stage entertainment by the O.C. Riggs Band from 2:30-4:30 p.m. and Mixx from 7-8:30 p.m.

Festival attractions that run the length of the event include the country store, with craft demonstrations, food booths, craft booths, commercial booths, vendors, entertainment, games, and the gas engine displays. In the afternoon and evening each day, scheduled activities include Boley’s Tractor Pedal Pull, games, and entertainment.

An oil give-away and a 50/50 drawing will also be held each day.