ROCKINGHAM — For the second year in row, Richmond County has a special event brewing that the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce and Tri City Inc. hope to build on from last year.
Hoptoberfest will be from 4 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 1 in the Richmond Plaza shopping center and will feature music by Bantum Rooster. The main attraction won’t be on the stage — but rather in a glass.
With a ticket, patrons will be able to taste 4-ounce samples from each of the brewers and will have opportunity to buy more beer or wine directly from vendors. Last year, folks were handed a small mug when entering and tried local breweries including Dirtbag Ales and Southern Pines Brewing Co. Those two will be back this year and will be joined by Yester Years, Bear Creek Brews, Aviator Brewing Co. and Dreamchaser’s Brewery. In addition, vineyards such as Cypress Bend Winery, Lockhart Winery, Dennis Vineyard and Stephen’s Winery will be on hand to try.
“When we envisioned this event, we were forecasting a situation where we’ve got a new complete lineup of tenants that can build off of this,” said Tri City Inc. CEO Neil Robinette. “It’s exciting to see how it’s evolved from last year. It really got kick-started last year and is expected to far exceed this year.”
Good beer usually pairs well with chicken wings and once again this year, teams are lining up to take place in the wing competition. Last year, tasters were given a punch card numbered 1-9 and after tasting all the wings, compared what they liked and didn’t like and voted for a winner by the end of the evening.
Two rounds were held, featuring a judges’ competition and a people’s choice award given by those attending the event. The Rockingham Fire Department team — led by Chief Harold Isler — took home the judges’award, winning a $750 cash prize donated by Evans Shepard on behalf of Perdue, a trophy and free entry into this year’s cook-off. The RFD donated the money back to the chamber.
The Hogfather company won the people’s choice trophy, chosen by those in the crowd tasting.
Even though inclement weather threatened to dampen the event in 2015, Chamber President Emily Tucker said this year is expected to be bigger and better with “more beer, more chicken wings and more wine.”
“Last year was a great success,” she said. “People were asking when the next one would be. People still came out even though it was wet. It’s a great partnership with Tri City and all their renovations. It’s a win-win partnership. We wanted to have a new signature event.”
Tickets for Hoptoberfest are $30 until Sept. 25, $35 after that and are available at www.richmondcountychamber.com or by calling the chamber office at 910-895-9058 or Tri City at 910-997-2544.
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.