Inaugural Youghtoberfest fundraiser brings beer, people, food and vendors to Ohiopyle

By Mark Hoffman

The public’s support for Ohiopyle and its fundraising efforts for their water treatment facility flowed like the beer during its inaugural Youghtoberfest.

“The weather is on our side today, and everyone is here supporting our community,” said Abby Greenbaum, who is on the Youghtoberfest committee and one of the organizers of the event. “And everyone is here for a good time.”

This year marks the first Youghtoberfest event that attracted 39 vendors of all varieties and seven breweries to the borough as a fundraiser to expand its water treatment facility.

Ohiopyle has between 12 residents, according to the borough’s mayor, and 37, according to the 2020 Census, but attracts around 1.5 million people every year because of Ohiopyle State Park and the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP).

Such an influx of visitors can overwhelm the water treatment facility, so the borough needs to double the facility’s capacity to prevent that from happening while attracting new residents and businesses to the area.

Greenbaum said not all seven breweries could make it to the festival, but they generously donated their craft products so the festival would have plenty of beer, wine and cider for those in attendance to taste.

“We’re very happy with the turnout,” Greenbaum said, adding they also had two food trucks at the event as well as live music from Devon Johnson and Fern Cliff Collective performing and a kids play area available.

Justin Deem of North Huntingdon visited the festival with his wife and children because they had friends who were attending and because his son had a football game against Fraizer later that afternoon, and they decided to make a day of it.

“So far, I think it’s great,” Deem said of the festival and the borough. “I didn’t know what to expect; it’s awesome. I love the old historic buildings and the historic environment.”

Bill Mardis of Morgantown, W.Va., heard about the event and the mission behind it and decided to cycle to Ohiopyle, camp out for the weekend and check out the festival.

“I like beer fests, it supports the borough, I like camping, so it all goes together,” said Mardis, a native of Ruffsdale.

Mardis added that he enjoyed seeing and sampling products from the up-and-coming breweries, including one that started this year, Trippy Hippie Brewing Co. in Connellsville.

Jason Bandemer, the co-owner of the brewery along with Kevin Leonard, started the business this year with the physical brewery planning to be constructed soon along the bike trail across from the hotel in Connellsville.

They plan to have the brewery opened by summer of next year.

Youghtoberfest was the brewery’s first beer festival as they rolled out their draft-beer trailer with new decorative wrapping.

“It’s great, the response has been really good, the people are great,” Bandemer said. “Ohiopyle and Connelslville—they’re like the same kind of communities. We’re both focused heavily on the GAP trail, and we just wanted to come up here and support these guys and what they’re doing up here.”

Bandemer said they were excited when the Youghtoberfest committee contacted them to attend the event and help them raise money for the facility project to help Ohiopyle grow as Connellsville and similar communities in Fayette County continue to grow.

“We want to make sure that we’re continuing the progress and make things better than they are,” Bandemer said. “We want the next generation to say they’re proud to be from Fayette County.”

Greenbaum said, like the annual community-run Spirit of the River Wine and Arts Festival donating a portion of their proceeds to the facility in the spring, she wants to see Youghtoberfest do the same in the fall and every fall.

“We hope to have this for many years,” she said.

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