Ohiopyle to honor retired state park manager at wine festival

By Amy Fauth

This Saturday, most attending the Ohiopyle Wine and Arts Fest are hoping to pick up a nice bottle of their favorite wine, but Ken Bisbee will be there for an entirely different reason.

The former Ohiopyle State Park Operations Manager, who retired in April, will return to the small town he once called home to receive a special recognition from Ohiopyle Borough.

Jessica Kruse, borough council president, said they wanted to honor Bisbee for his decade of collaboration and cooperation.

“The borough wanted to recognize the cooperation between the borough and the state park and Ken’s commitment to working with us throughout the years,” said Kruse.

Bisbee, who has worked at state parks for the last 43 years, said the location of Ohiopyle State Park – encircling the very small town – made a cooperative relationship not just necessary, but imperative.

“Partnerships are what makes the whole place function. I always tried to be a great partner,” he said

The small town of about 30 people welcomes between 1.2 and 1.5 million every year. However, that doesn’t translate into a huge tax base. The wine festival was established in 2017 as a fundraiser for the town’s sewage treatment plant, which supports both the residents and visitors.

“We have to keep this little plant running,” said Kruse.

Last year, the festival raised about $15,000 – $9,000 of which went to purchase one small, but vital piece of equipment: a meter to measure the amount of flow going through the system.

A portion of the funds are also given as a donation to the borough’s 10-person volunteer fire department, which responds to both emergencies in Ohiopyle – including the park

Kruse said borough officials are hopeful that Kris Baker – Bisbee’s replacement – will bring the same good rapport.

In the meantime, Bisbee is excited to return to Ohiopyle for the festival.

“I miss my staff. It really was one of the best. And, I miss the people I know in the borough,” he said.

The Spirit of the River: Ohiopyle Wine and Arts Festival is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 1. The festival features food trucks, arts and craft vendors and a number of wineries and distilleries.

Posted in