ROCKINGHAM — One of the county’s largest fall events is switching venues.
The Richmond County Chamber of Commerce moved the location for the fifth annual Hoptoberfest, which was originally scheduled to be held at The Rock-Speedway and Entertainment Complex, across the street to Rockingham Dragway.
Chamber President Emily Tucker said Wednesday the change was made “due to unforeseen circumstances.”
“The event has grown so much and we can’t afford to take chances,” she said.
That growth is why the Chamber initially moved Hoptoberfest from Richmond Plaza to the speedway — which was announced as the site in March — and increased the amount of tickets from 750 to 1,200.
The Chamber changed the location on the event’s Facebook page on Monday.
Both Tucker and dragway owner Steve Earwood said they were “excited about it.”
Earwood said the event would be held in the dragway’s front parking lot, adding, “We’ve got plenty of space for their vendors and their bands,” with access to power and plenty of parking.
Tucker said so far the event has attracted vendors who will be displaying around 50 different beers, with more expected.
Brewing companies — all from North Carolina — that have already signed on include Southern Pines, Railhouse, Dirtbag Ales and Foothills, according to Tucker. She added that Dennis Vineyards of Albemarle will also have a selection of wines.
There are still tickets available for the Oct. 5 event, which will also feature a live band — The Voltage Brothers — and a wing competition. Tucker said there are three competitors entered so far, including The Hogfather and Lord of the Wings, but encourages anyone who has a special sauce to enter for a chance at a $750 prize.
Anyone interested in buying Hoptoberfest tickets, apparel or who needs more information can call the Chamber at 910-895-9058.
Beer pouring, wine tasting and wing cooking won’t be the only things going on at the dragway that weekend.
Earwood’s track will also be hosting the season finale of the SFG Promotions 300, and event that he said drew more than 500 entrants last year.
Hoptoberfest is the second event scheduled for this year to fall through for the speedway.
County and speedway leaders had announced an Independence Day spectacle, with the event being billed as having one of the largest fireworks displays in the Southeast.
However, that was cancelled on June 14.
“Sometimes it’s hard to admit that you’re not quite ready for primetime despite your excitement to move forward,” Dan Lovenheim, president of The Rock, said in a statement.” Additionally, we took legitimate concerns that our event might negatively affect longstanding Independence Day traditions throughout the area to heart.”
Before the event was officially announced, the Ellerbe Lions Club had said it was going to cancel its annual celebration because of the competition, but later decided to go ahead with the tradition. The city of Hamlet also voted to continue with its annual fireworks show.
“We look forward to opening The Rock to our community when it’s ready and when doing so will add to, not detract from, rebuilding Richmond County as a premier entertainment destination,” Lovenheim added.
The speedway recently announced on its website that “Something awesome is on the way” July 19.
“Keep checking back in, but we have something amazing on the way that you aren’t going to want to miss,” reads the post on the home page. “This event is being sponsored by some of the hottest Raleigh nightlife spots. Get ready to shake and bake.”