While there are some minor tweaks going on behind the scenes of Hubbard Hop Festival, most festivalgoers won't notice a difference from the beloved festivals of the past 40-plus years.
Hop Fest, held predominantly in Hubbard's Rivenes Park, has been put on by the Hubbard Volunteer Firefighters Association in years past, but last year the volunteers hit just enough road blocks to decide to cancel that year's festival.
"People were really upset we didn't have Hop Fest last year; they felt like the fire district let them down, but that's a separate entity," Fire Capt. Mike Kahrmann said.
Kahrmann, a volunteer firefighter for 12 years, is president of Hubbard Hop Festival, Inc. The organization was established this year to be separate not just from the Hubbard Fire District, but also from the volunteers association. There are still several volunteer firefighters involved, but the hope is that having a separate entity will involve more community members in the planning of Hubbard's festival.
Another change this year is that firefighters won't be serving alcohol in the beer garden. Instead, Oregon Beverage Services will be providing both servers and security.
"We don't want to portray ourselves as anything but responsible and professional," said Fire Board President Jeff Robinson. "We have to maintain a high standard."
This will also allow the volunteer firefighters to be involved elsewhere, whether it's manning the sausage booth, running a bike rodeo in the kids' corner or providing an overall presence to the festivities.
Additionally, the beer garden will be set up in a larger, more shaded space, for added comfort of patrons. The beer garden is free and open to all ages until 6 p.m. After that, there's a $5 cover charge and only ages 21 and up are allowed.
Enjoy your brew while listening to the lineup of musical performers. Marion County Citizens Band, a Hop Fest staple, performs from noon to 1 p.m. New this year is Trent Beaver, a Molalla native who writes and plays rock music, who will take to the stage from 6 to 9 p.m. Closing out the event is Abandon Stage, a Portland rock band returning to Hop Fest, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
As a result of the firefighters moving out of the beer garden, sign-ups for the ever-popular and ultra-competitive horseshoe tournament are now at the firefighter sausage booth. There's only room for 30 people to sign up, and there's no age requirement, though Kahrmann says competitors are usually teenaged or older. The tournament begins at noon and is planned to wrap up by 6 p.m. The winner gets a trophy and a hat, the latter of which has usually been worn like a crown at the following year's Hop Festival by the reigning champion.
While the teens and adults concentrate on the horseshoes, there will be an extra focus on kids at this year's Hop Festival. Near the popular splash fountain will be a bike rodeo, kids' games like a balloon toss, and fire safety instruction with the help of a Woodburn Fire District trailer. The firefighters will be assisted by North Marion Cheer. The kids' corner will be open with activity from 11 a.m. to about 6 p.m., with the bike rodeo at 1 p.m., the fire prevention trailer open at 2, the dunk tank at 3 and kids games at 4 p.m.
"We really want to focus on this being a family-oriented event," Kahrmann said. "We want the whole family to come down and be involved. The kids' area will be educational but also really fun. In fact, I remember doing this kind of thing growing up and going to Hop Fest."
Another staple of the Hop Fest since Kahrmann was a kid — and probably even longer — has been the presence of nonprofits. The nonprofit vendor booths are what Hop Fest has always been about, Kahrmann said: providing a means to give back to the community.
"Meeting the community's needs is really what Hop Fest is about," Fire Chief Steve Brewer said. "I'd say 95 percent of the money that's raised at Hop Fest goes back into the community."
In addition to nonprofits, like St. Agnes Church and Chaps & Petticoats, there will be local public awareness organizations with booths, including Blindskills and the Oregon State Police bomb squad.
New this year is the Saturday Market. Volunteer Alicia Sobo has been coordinating a crafts fair for local residents who have crafts to sell. While they aren't nonprofit booths, the money is still going back into the community, since vendors are local and booth fees go toward the Hop Festival.
"We're trying to get it out there that this is what we're doing, we're giving back to the community," Kahrmann said. "By bringing that to light, we hope to have everyone in the community involved."
And no Hop Festival would be complete without the annual raffle. This year's raffle includes a Green Mountain Daniel Boone grill, a 60-inch Vizio TV, a landscaping package valued at $500-plus and gift cards to area restaurants. Raffle tickets, which are available at the fire station before the event and at vendors' booths the day of, are $1 each, with a maximum of 4,000 sold. The drawing will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, and the winners don't need to be present to win.
After the bills are paid, Kahrmann said he hopes Hop Fest raises enough money so they can possibly build a memorial to the family found dead after a house fire east of Hubbard in January.
While they hope to have more active community members in future Hop Festivals, organizers hope the efforts put into Hop Festival are appreciated and embraced by the community.
"This is not just piecing together a festival to appease the community," Brewer said. "The group is 100 percent into it and it's going to truly be a community event."