NRGRDA, WV Hive and New River Gorge CVB Collaborate
Glen Jean, W.Va. (Oct. 13, 2022) – The New River Gorge region, national park and preserve, and southern West Virginia are being featured on a new five-ounce chip bag that will be unveiled Saturday by West Virginia’s only potato chip manufacturer — Mister Bee Potato Chips based in Parkersburg.
Leaders from Mister Bee, New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, West Virginia Hive, New River Gorge Convention and Visitors Bureau, and guests will unveil the new chip bag design at 10 a.m. at the Mister Bee/WV Hive tent on the southern end of the bridge.
Mary Anne Ketelsen, president of Mister Bee, said the new chip bags will be available soon in local retail outlets throughout southern West Virginia and the Mountain State. “We encourage people to join us on Bridge Day and to enjoy the scenic beauty of the New River Gorge region,” said Ketelsen. She said 876 one-ounce bags of Mister Bee chips (representing the height of the bridge in feet above the scenic New River) will be handed out free at Bridge Day. Asher Agency in Charleston (with offices in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, Ind., and Washington, D.C.) designed the new chip bags.
Jina Belcher, executive director of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA), and Judy Moore, deputy director of NRGRDA and executive director of the West Virginia Hive, created the idea of the partnership with Mister Bee and the new chip bag.
“Thousands of visitors from across the nation and the Mountain State are visiting the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve and taking in the sites and experiences in southern West Virginia,” said Belcher. “NRGRDA, the West Virginia Hive, and New River Gorge Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) cannot act rapidly enough to respond to the tourism, outdoor recreation, community development, and business growth. Judy and I were made aware of Mister Bee’s interest in reaching more customers in our region, so we proposed a new chip bag that would celebrate the state’s only potato chip company as well as the new national park and emergence of the New River Gorge region.”
Ketelsen said the idea resonated and the company is indebted to NRGRDA, West Virginia Hive, CVB, and Bridge Day planners for this opportunity. “The power of collaboration and dreaming and executing of big ideas are key reasons Mister Bee Potato Chips continues to grow so rapidly,” she said.
Mister Bee Potato Chips was started in 1951 and is one of the most popular snacks in the Mountain State. It was voted “Best West Virginia-Made Food Product” in 2021 by the readers of West Virginia Living magazine. The woman-owned, small business has been fully modernized and has expanded its market research and grown from 20 to 80 employees in the past two years.
“This success story is a prime example of how the entrepreneurial ecosystem we have built in southern West Virginia can add value to long-standing businesses as well as new start-ups and early-stage businesses seeking to grow or pivot,” said Moore.