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Marble Festival celebrates 15 years

By Staff | Sep 24, 2014

The 2014 commemorative marble features the Tyler County Courthouse

The streets of Sistersville will be lined with marble displays, food vendors, and much more while thousands of visitors attend during the 15th annual Sistersville Marble Festival, Sept. 26-28.

The Friday, Saturday, and Sunday event has been known to draw national and international attention while providing a fun and unique experience for local residents of all ages.

“There are marble shows all over the United States,” said founder and coordinator Jim King. “Most are done in motels with room-to-room trading. I wanted something that was more festive and for the whole family, so that everyone could enjoy it.”

With that idea in mind, King launched the first Sistersville Marble Festival in 2000. The festival, for which attendance and vendor setup is free, thrives by giving collectors a way to buy, sell, and trade marbles or other flea market items. Those new to the festival, as well as those who have attended each year, can look forward to enjoying the friendly atmosphere of downtown Sistersville.

In addition to providing free entertainment to the public, the festival also serves as a celebration of the area’s rich history of “marble mania,” seeking to bring the area’s history to present light. At one time there were more than 20 marble factories within a 60-mile radius of Sistersville, which was located at the heart of marble country.

When playing marbles hit its peak worldwide, a majority of the toy marbles children used for their games had been produced in this area. Today the town of Sistersville is located between two of the remaining American-based toy marble manufacturers: Marble King, located four miles north of Sistersville in Paden City, and Jabo Vitro Marble Factory, located 25 miles south of Sistersville in Lower Newport, Ohio.

The festival recognizes such history and heritage and provides a variety of yearly traditions, including: handmade marble demonstrations by world-renowned glass artists, a children’s marble tournament, a silent marble auction, Bingo at the Wells Inn, and even music acts performing on the streets. The Friendly Lions Club will be hosting Bingo at The Wells Inn.

Another unforgettable staple of the Sistersville Marble Festival is the annual, commemorative marble. Each year the festival decides to acknowledge something different as an image on those rare marbles, produced by Jabo Vitro. This year, in honor of Tyler County’s approaching 200th birthday, the commemorative marble will feature the Tyler County Courthouse. Collectors and those wanting a piece of Tyler County history will have to act fast, because there will be only 2,014 of these limited edition marbles in existence.

These commemorative marbles will be available beginning Friday morning at 9 a.m. at the main booth in front of King’s Corner on Charles St.

Local restaurants and food trucks are a great source of fuel as marble enthusiasts and other spectators eagerly enjoy all this event has to offer. Vendor setup has always been free, allowing a large variety for visitors to explore.

For more information about free vendor setup for selling marbles, other collectibles or baked items, or to be added to the Sistersville Marble Festival mailing list, contact Jim King at 304-652-4030.