One of the reasons nationally known jazz artists like to come to central West Virginia is the food, and if you ask some of the musicians, their love of that food is one of the first things they tell people when they get back home.

That fact alone is good reason say event planners to spend time focusing on the cuisine available during Clarksburg’s Uptown Jazz Stroll on Friday, December 9, and Bridgeport’s Benedum Jazz festivities on Saturday, December 10.

There are also practical reasons to plan the dining based on a lesson learned during the first Uptown Jazz Stroll three years ago.

“We got slammed,” said Tim Gentilozzi, owner of Washington Square, a Stroll venue in Clarksburg since the start of the bi-annual live jazz events. “There were many more people out to hear the music than we anticipated. It took us a bit to ramp up and adjust.”

The West Virginia Jazz Society (WVJS) is anticipating “around 2000 seatings” over the course of the two-night event in ten unique venues. The WVJS counts a “seating” as one person in one seat for one show that has the opportunity to purchase food and drink.

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“We don’t necessarily want to sell out,” said Eric Spelsberg, WVJS President. “But what we do hope is for each venue to provide a great experience to each customer throughout the evening. A place with 40 seats can sell more than 100 meals over the course of three sets. That’s a good night.”

Here is a list of the Holiday Jazz Weekend venues with dining options planned.

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Kelly’s Irish Pub traditionally provides a “Jazz Night Special” entrée plus a featured selection of light fare and appetizers. They have a full bar.

The Fifth Floor features light fare, salads and wraps plus specialty cocktails. The Fifth Floor fills up early so it is highly advisable to call ahead to check seating and pricing policies.

Washington Square is a pizzeria with a full bar and will feature fried seafood on December 9 including a trio platter with shrimp, oysters and catfish. Chocolate covered strawberries have been a signature dish offered complimentary to dining patrons.

The PWA Uptown Event Center will feature Chef G’s All-You-Can-Eat Pasta Buffet for $12 as an option for music fans. Plans are to open the Buffet at 5:30pm, an hour before the music begins in uptown Clarksburg. Beverage policy is BYOB.

In My Little Cupcake, they plan to offer their specialty coffees, teas and baked goods to an audience for “Time Remembered: The Life Of Bill Evans”, a documentary film premier in West Virginia, followed by a tribute concert to Evans by jazz duo Jenny and Nathan Wilson. No alcohol will be served.

A second no alcohol venue in Clarksburg is the First United Methodist Church where those who come for the music can attend a Meet The Artists Reception and enjoy a cookies, appetizers and fruit punch display before the show begins from 6:30pm to 7:00pm.

In Bridgeport on Saturday evening, Mia Margherita will host Dan Baker’s Yuletide Guitar performance beginning at 8pm, with a full bar and full menu of rustic Italian specialties featured.

The grand finale of dining for Holiday Jazz Weekend comes Saturday evening with the Bridgeport Arts Council’s Italian Tapas Dinner at Benedum Civic Center at 6:30pm. The menu was planned by Mia Margherita’s Culinary Team and will feature a four-course small plates selection of Caramelized Walnut and Pomegranate Salad, Handmade Rigatoni & Portabella Mushrooms, Beef Filet, Creamy Polenta and Italian Greens and Mia’s Housemade Tiramisu.

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The Tapas Dinner is priced at $35 with proceeds benefiting the BAC. Beverage policy is BYOB and there will be a beverage assistant available for patron convenience.

For more information dining options during Holiday Jazz Weekend email to: WVJazzSociety@aol.com or phone 304-517-9813. To reserve seating for the Tapas Dinner, email to: gee1mom@aol.com or phone 304-641-3420.

Photos: Tapas and Small Plates Dining – pictured are two of the “small plates” served at the first Got Jazz! show in Clarksburg in April 2016.