Celebrate all things hops, heritage

Independence Hop & Heritage Festival this weekend.

INDEPENDENCE — Come celebrate a time not-so-long gone, a time when Independence was “Hop Capital of the World.”

The Hop and Heritage Festival is coming back Friday through Sunday, with all of its traditional events.

A few new events are making their way into the old-fashioned festival celebrating all things hops.

The biggest change people will notice is the location.

“It’s really different,” said event chair Natascha Cronin. “Mainly because it’s all in (Riverview) Park. We also added a couple new elements, such as an additional hopyard beer tent.”

Since its inception in 2001, the festival had been held in the streets, shutting down not just Main Street, but side streets as well.

“It becomes more and more complicated to block off streets,” Cronin said. “We want to be good neighbors to downtown merchants. We want them to look forward to the festival and benefit from it.”

Gone are the days of extension cords streaming out of second-story windows to provide power to vendors. Riverview Park allows both power and water to be supplied straight to those in need.

Also, the park allows the festival room to grow.

A hopyard beer tent — complete with its own stage — and a kids’ heritage tent have been added to the festival. The heritage stage will add more music and entertainment, coupled with the main stage in the amphitheater.

The Ghost Walk has surged in popularity, making festival organizers add a second night to the spooky fun. The Friday night ghost walk remains free on a first-come, first-served basis, but the newly added Saturday night event comes with a $5 admission fee.

Popular events that are not new but making a comeback are the helicopter rides and the community church service on Sunday morning.

All the old favorites that make the festival great also are returning: the old-fashioned contests, Mayor’s Critter Parade and, don’t forget the beer.

NW Canning Company will be on hand to can homebrewed batches of five gallons or more.

Rogue Farms Hopyard will host a variety of activities and entertainment all weekend long, with a shuttle service from the bines to downtown Independence.

The kids’ heritage tent will host old-fashioned games — within the time period of 1856-1956, when Independence reigned as the Hop Capital — such as cake walks, making juggling balls, and a special event: making miniature wooden boats.

For more information, including the schedule of events or to view YouTube videos of the entertainers, go to the festival’s new website: www.hopfestival.org.

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