By JOSELYN KING
WHEELING – Wheeling Heritage plans to hold its next “Raise of Hands” contest live and in person downtown next month.
The popular “Show of Hands” event will take place March 30 at 6 p.m. in the Third Floor Ballroom of the Artisan Center, 1400 Main St., Wheeling. Past in-person events have attracted up to 400 people.
During the festivities, four animators explain to those present their ideas for starting or improving their existing business.
Each participant pays $5 to receive a ballot and vote on the presenter’s proposal that is most deserving of funding. The presenter with the most votes receives a minimum of $4,000 – plus any $5 donations at the door – to fund their project.
Wheeling Heritage typically hosts three “Show of Hands” events each year, with the last in-person event taking place in January 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Virtual “Show of Hands” competitions were held in October 2020 and again in October 2021.
During the virtual events, the public paid to view the videos of the hosts posted online.
Alexandra Panas, director of communications and development at Wheeling Heritage, said organizers just thought it was time to get back to live events.
“We are seeing a return to normal across the board as people have more access to vaccines and boosters,” she said.
“We had wanted to schedule the event for February, but we also wanted to allow more time for the number of omicrons to decrease.
“We continue to monitor the number of cases. If they don’t go down as we thought, we leave the possibility to modify the plans if necessary. But our intention is to have an in-person event.
Panas said any change in plan would be announced by the first week of March.
“People know how special the in-person event is,” she explained. “They hear presenters in their own words explain why they want to expand or start a business. They can’t do as well virtually.
Still, some presenters benefit from the virtual format, Panas added.
“Individual business owners could tap into their online customers in ways they can’t at an in-person event,” she explained. “Each format has its pros and cons. They are just different.
“We prefer the in-person format because everyone in the audience hears all four pitches. We can’t tell if they watch all four videos while online. When there is a captive audience, they have no choice but to listen.
Business owners and those with ideas for a business are invited to submit an application to participate in the upcoming “Hands Up” competition. These are due to Wheeling Heritage by February 18 and can be completed at wheelingheritage.org/show-of-hands.