ROCKINGHAM — With many COVID-related restrictions being lifted, the county’s annual craft beer and chicken wing festival is on for 2021.
The Richmond County Chamber of Commerce announced this week that the annual Hoptoberfest will return to Rockingham Dragway on Saturday Oct. 2.
“We expect this year to be the best yet,” Chamber President Emily Tucker said Thursday, adding that the goal is to sell at least 2,500 tickets.
Last year’s event was canceled because of COVID-related government restrictions on mass gatherings.
In 2019, the last time the festival was held, there were more than 60 brews on tap and 13 competitors in the wing contest.
That year, Hoptoberfest was originally planned to be hosted at Rockingham Speedway, as the event had grown beyond the bounds of the Richmond Plaza parking lot. However, due to “unforeseen circumstances,” it was moved across U.S. 1 to the dragway.
As in 2019, the roar of engines will be heard in the background with the dragway also hosting the Street Car Takeover that weekend.
Hoptoberfest will take place in the dragway’s front parking lot as before, however, Tucker said the layout would be a little different.
So far, four breweries have signed on to participate: Dirtbag Ales, which has been with the festival since the beginning; Wicked Weed Brewing; Carolina Brewery; and Sycamore Brewing.
Wine vendors are planned again, but Tucker said none have yet committed.
Tucker said the Chamber is hoping to have 20 competitors in the wing competition this year. Several teams have already committed, including the second-place and people’s choice winners from HCI Fire and Restoration, as well as teams from local manufacturers Plastek and American Woodmark.
Attendees will not only be able to vote for their favorite wings, but also their favorite beer in the Best of the Brew contest, Tucker said, adding that all voting this year will be electronic.
Something else new for 2021 will be additional food vendors, with Godfather’s Pizza currently committed. Tucker said the Chamber is planning to recruit several local food trucks. This week the Chamber also announced a special membership for food trucks.
The Monterio Experience, sponsored by HCI, Drop-A-Box and Guardian Roofing will be playing a mix of musical genres for the crowd. The band previously performed at a benefit for the Humane Society of Richmond County.
Tucker added that there may also be a local band or DJ providing entertainment.
“I feel like people need this community event as sort of a COVID afterparty,” Tucker said.
Speaking of afterparties, Double Vision again will host the official Hoptoberfest afterparty later that evening.
Tickets go on sale June 21 — after the Luau on the Links Golf Tournament slated for June 18 at Beacon Ridge Golf and Country Club in West End — and will be available online.
Visit the Hoptoberfest page at richmondcountychamber.com for updates.