ROCKINGHAM — As engines roared in the background, hundreds of patrons got their fill of craft beer and chicken wings Saturday during the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce’s fifth annual Hoptoberfest at Rockingham Dragway.
Each patron was given a plastic event cup as they walked through the gate to fill with samples of the more than 60 beers on tap, including products from Southern Pines Brewery, Railhouse Brewery and Dirtbag Ales.
Dennis Vineyards from Albemarle was also on site for those who prefer wine to beer.
Lined up along the back side of the area were the 13 wing competitors, who were vying for the $750 prize.
When it came time to announce the winners, all three were local: the Rockingham Fire Department took third place; HCI Fire and Water Restoration won second place; and Kenneth Robinette and his group came out on top with first place. The HCI team also won the people’s choice trophy.
Chamber President Emily Tucker said this was HCI’s first year competing.
“One of them walked up to me and told me they were out of wings, so I sorta knew then that they were probably a crowd favorite,” she said.
As the crowd socialized, the Voltage Brothers played a variety of R&B and funk, ranging from Sam & Dave to Prince to Michael Jackson — and even David Bowie.
“I think it’s probably one of the best yet,” Tucker said about the festival, estimating an attendance from 800 to 1,000. “I think, for the most part, everyone’s had a great time.”
Tucker said there may be a “Best of the Brew” award given out at next year’s event.