ROCKINGHAM — With each passing year, Hoptoberfest has seen its numbers grow in regards to wing teams, beer and wine vendors, and attendees since its inception in 2015. The Richmond County Chamber of Commerce announced on Thursday that expansion would continue for the festival as it moves out to the Rockingham Speedway this year.
Chamber President Emily Tucker met with Neil Robinette, Tim Hayden, Robin Roberts, Taylor Player, Kayla Fesperman, Chuck Cobb, Joe Everette, Kelly Monroe and Brian Baucom earlier this week at the speedway to discuss the logistics of such a move.
“It’s great timing with the purchase of the speedway by the new owners,” said Tucker. “They approached us, but we had been thinking about it ourselves with the timing. Frank Bloom has experience with beer festivals for 15 years so he has a lot of connections. It was a great partnership opportunity for the speedway and the Chamber. They want to bring these types of events to the speedway, and it’s a great way to bring the community an event out at the speedway.”
Bloom, who serves as the the vice president of events, sales and marketing for Rockingham Speedway, echoed Tucker’s words, saying they are also excited to be partnering with the Chamber on this event and are looking forward to seeing everyone attend another year of Hoptoberfest.
Tucker went on to say that even with the improvements to the Richmond Plaza Shopping Center, the festival has outgrown the space. The Chamber is also looking to bring in more people to the area, with ticket sales this year expected to double last year’s.
“We sold 800 tickets last year, so we’re looking at the 1,500-2,000 number for tickets,” Tucker said. “We have the potential to do up to 2,000 with the move to the Speedway.”
Some of the logistics, such as the number of cook teams, have yet to be finalized according to Tucker, but she said the chicken wings have already been secured from Perdue Foods.
“We’re looking to recruit the breweries and wineries,” she said. “Bloom has a lot of contacts in the craft beer world. He is more reaching than the Chamber so it’s a win-win for everybody.”
Location-wise, Hoptoberfest will be located in the infield garage area at the Speedway in a fenced-in area, and Tucker said unlike past years, this year’s festival will go on whether rain or shine.
“If it were to rain, we could flip it and go in the garage,” she said. “That’s also a positive there.”
Tickets are set to go on sale June 1. Tucker encourages those interested to follow the Chamber’s website and Facebook page.
“I think it’s brought a new spotlight to quality of life in Richmond County,” Tucker continued. “It says a lot for a small community that doesn’t have a brewery. It gives us the opportunity. Breweries are looking at us now. Some of that can be attributed to Hoptoberfest. We took a chance, and now we have more craft beer being offered in our stores. Kudos to the community on taking a chance on this type of event. We’re excited, and it’s gonna be a great year.”
As for the Speedway itself, Bloom and his crew have been looking for different events to host at the track, and bring more than just racing opportunities to the area.
“Hoptoberfest’s relocation to The Rock,” said Bloom, “is a great example of the versatility of the facility and its focus.”