BUCKHANNON – When Lewis County native Katelyn Wine got the call that she got the job, she couldn’t contain her excitement.
It was her dream job – manager of the Event Center at Brushy Fork – and it seemed too good to be true.
“I was bouncing around like a crazy lady,” Wine said, laughing. “When they called and said I had gotten the job, and they asked if I still wanted it, I said, ‘Absolutely, I want it! Are you kidding? This is what I’ve wanted to do forever’ … I was ecstatic.”
Wine became the new Event Center manager just over a month ago, and although she’s long wanted to work in a management position – and specifically an event planning one – she’s young and was worried she didn’t have enough experience under her belt. She’d helped her mother, an elementary school principal, organize a variety of events, but she had yet to work full-time in the field.
“My mom is an elementary school principal, and before that, she was a teacher at the high school that I attended, and we had done Shakespearean festivals, National Honors Society banquets, Veterans Day events, so I had experience planning small stuff, and I knew I was good at it,” Wine said.
The Event Center at Brushy Fork operates under the umbrella of the Upshur County Convention & Visitors Bureau, which is headed up by executive director Laura Meadows, and the CVB has been searching for a permanent Event Center manager since Sean Harris resigned to take another job earlier this year. Meadows said one of the most important qualities among a pool of job applicants is a person’s enthusiasm – and Wine has plenty of that to spare.
“Whenever you’re hiring, I think you look for somebody that who wants to do that type of job, and she had a direct interest in events planning and working with different people and groups – and you want someone who wants to be where they are,” Meadows said. “She’s just an organized person and very structured, and I think that’s a huge benefit to that space.”
Wine had hoped to transition into event planning at Stonewall Resort where she formerly worked, and although that didn’t pan out, she logged plenty of hours working with guests and customers, and has had a number of think-on-your-feet, fast-paced jobs.
She grew up on a 300-acre farm in Orlando, West Virginia and graduated from Gilmer County High School, and after briefly exploring a forensic psychiatry degree at Fairmont State University, she went on to earn her phlebotomy certification from Pierpont Community & Technical College. Soon after, she secured a position as a phlebotomist at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Buckhannon, but then COVID-19 hit, and she decided to change course.
“We had tons of PPE, and it was just draining,” she said. “You had patients dying in the ICU. It was really hard.”
Now, in her new post, she enjoys overseeing proper setup and take down and ensuring everything runs smoothly.
“All of the jobs that I’ve had are fast-paced,” she said, “and that’s something that I think will be a benefit to this position.”
Plus, she has a few extra hands – or paws – on deck to assist her. Wine doesn’t go anywhere – including work – without her service dog, Minnie, a miniature black Goldendoodle who is professionally trained.
Wine completed clinical rotations with her, college classes and much more.
“She’s been to high school, she’s been to college, she worked in hospitals, and now she works at the Event Center,” Wine said. “When we got the job, I said to my mom, ‘we need to get her a little supervisor placard.’”
When Wine and Minnie aren’t working at the Event Center, Wine likes to spend her time training dogs, horseback riding and spending time with her fiancé, Brandon.
Although life at the Event Center isn’t the same as pre-pandemic, Meadows said the CVB has been working to chart a new course.
“I wouldn’t really say back to where we were before the pandemic; we kept kind of waiting for things to normalize, but we’ve had to shift gears a little bit and say, ‘this is where we are, and it’s just a little bit different,’” Meadows said.
Different means more daytime meetings and conferences.
“We’re not booking as many weekends, but we have events throughout the week, which is a good thing,” Meadows said. “We have a two-day statewide conference utilizing the Event Center now.”
“The facility is available, and we try to work within people’s budgets, and we’re open for just about anything,” she added. “We try to keep our minds open and make it beneficial for everyone really.”