The "original" Hop Festival, also known as the Hop Fiesta, began in early 1930's. The festival grew out of the celebrations in the migrant camps at the hop fields. These celebrations marked the end of harvest. At last the celebrations were combined into one large party in Independence, which continued until the mid 1950's, missing only years when the US was most deeply involved in World War II.Last year Rogue was pouring a fresh hop tea - a non-alcoholic decoction of hops, water, and a little sugar. This was a great way to dial into the flavors and aromas of hops straight up. I hope they have it again!
The festival eventually stopped, for a number of reasons:
* Rebuilding of Germany included agreement to buy their product - they were a main producer of hops
* A blight attacked the hop vines and ruined crops
* Women left at home during war time developed a taste for a gentler beer using fewer hops, thus reducing demand
In 2001, Mayor McArdle decided to bring back the Hop and Heritage Festival, which opened with a huge attendance and patriotic display following September 11th.
The festival continues to grow each year, and we’re a big part of the celebration for 2009, with the Rogue beer garden, Rogue Nation sign ups, and hop farm tours.
The Festival includes a Ghost Walk and BBQ in the park on Friday night, with 40+ “ghost hosts,” where people are invited into homes, businesses, and restaurants to hear haunted stories.
On Saturday the Hop Festival continues with vendors, bands, a parade, tractor pull, and Xtreme Lawn Games – including crochet played with bowling balls and sledge hammers.
For more on the Independence Bank and hops see this note on Walter Pugh.