The Madison County Hop Fest celebration is September 15-17, a time set aside to pay homage to the past, present and prosperous future of the hop industry. On Friday, Sept. 15 is the five course Paired Beer Dinner at Good Nature Farm Brewery located at 1727 Route 12 B in Hamilton. Each course will be paired with their signature craft beers. We start with a “Hoppy Hour” of Spent Grain and Local Honey Granola-Nut Clusters paired with Good Nature Blond Ale. For the first course 3 Oysters on the ½ with Pickled Leek and Raspberry Mignonette paired with Good Nature Blight Buster IPA- American. The second course is Frites with Garlic Sausages and Green Peppercorn Sauce paired with is 5 – (5 Year Anniversary Ale) New England Belgian Style IPA. The third course is Grilled Sword Fish Medallion with Beet Puree and Pea Shoots paired with Non-Stop Hop Onslaught IPA- Session/Indian Session Ale. The fourth course is Wood Fired Ash Crusted Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio with Chicory Greens, Hoppy Mustard and Coddled Egg paired with American Brown Ale. The fifth course is a Lemon Creme Fraiche Gelato with Warm Maple Syrup and Toasted Pepitas paired with Annie IPA- Imperial/Double. Tickets for the dinner are $65 and must be purchased by September 8.
The event continues on Saturday, September 16 on the grounds of the Madison County Historical Society at 10 am featuring: guest speakers presenting programs on hop culture along with hop experts sharing their knowledge on brewing and growing hops. Visitors will be greeted at the Madison County Hop Fest by the “HOPitality” Committee of the Madison County Hop Fest which will provide a “Hoppy Hello” with a small nosegay of hops.
Viewing of with the exhibit Bittersweet: The Story of Hop Culture in Central New York and the video When Hop was King in Central New York, funded by the New York Council on the Arts, features interviews with Keith Eisaman, whose family owned the last commercial hop farm in Madison County will be shown at:10:00 am; 2:30; 3:30 and 4:30 pm inside the society’s agricultural Barn. Mr. Eisaman was exceedingly proud of being recognized as Hop King at the Fest for his knowledge of a lost agricultural era. Keith loved the Hop Fest and liked talking to visitors at the exhibit about hop farming with his family, but sadly he died two days before the 2005 Hop Fest. Al Bullard will host the exhibit much of the day and will have examples of his extensive tool collection on display. Bullard encourages persons to bring tools and other artifacts and documents to be identified and explained.
Matthew Urtz, Madison County Historian, will present, “Birth, Death, and Rebirth of the Hop Industry in Madison County” inside the society’s agricultural barn at 10:00 am. Mr. Urtz will provide a review of the 209 year history of hops in this county beginning with the introduction of commercial hop farming in 1808, the reasons for its decline in the late 19th C., and the growth of the industry since the Hop Fest began in 1996. Urtz will detail the related industries to hop farming such as foundries for plows and stoves, hauling cedar posts, selling twine in bulk, and how these commercial entities added cash to the county coffers. Wilber banks in Otsego and Ulster counties were founded by a hop grower who got rich during “the Golden Age” of hops.
Henry Drexler will present his program, “Hop House Images: Chenango, Madison and Oneida Counties” at 10:30 am inside the society’s agricultural barn. Drexler is from Norwich NY in Chenango County and has traveled around the area for many years photographing and painting hop images. Drexler has an extensive hop collection and will be including his reconstruction of John Alden Haight’s slides and outline of early hop programs. Lately Henry has been studying 1875 NYS census records on farm descriptions to compare which towns in local counties were producing the most hops.
Al Bullard, collector of hop tools, consultant on hop exhibits, and crowned Madison County Hop King in 2002 will present his program, in respect to the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in New York State. His program examines the important role of the Hop Farming Wife. The work of women and children was critical to successful 19th C. hop growing. Bullard’s 2015 publication Seasons, Tools, and Methods of Hop Growing in New York State’s Golden Age of Hops compiled his years of studying buildings, tools, and artifacts related to hop farming. Bullard, the Seventh Hop King, will describe the work through the year on the hop farm focusing on the women’s work. Al Bullard, a retired social studies teacher, began studying hop culture in the Museum Management Graduate program in Cooperstown. Al has a passion for “all things hop,” has a large collection of hop tools, and has first-hand knowledge of hop houses in the state. Bullard, the 2002 Hop King, curated the hop exhibit (1998 – 2003) at the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, and has conducted many hop tours. Bullard will have copies of his book to sell.
Sandra Bullard will present, Hop Time for Women! at 12:00 pm inside of the society’s agricultural barn. In 1998 Bullard’s collection of hop images, scrapbook memorabilia, poems, cartoons, and excerpts from a women’s diary was assembled into a spiral bound publication Hop Time which sold out of three printings. Bullard will focus on her ancestor Helen Haskin’s diary to relate the demanding role that women had in hop farming. Like most histories, the heritage of hops is described in terms of the male farmer’s work throughout the year. Little has been written and explored about the important duties of women during hops seasons. Bullard, a retired teacher, is the Town of Milford historian and a docent at the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown. Bullard’s booklet Hop Time will be available for sale.
Stay for the Taste of Hops: a food and beer pairing from 12- 2 where area restaurants/caterers create an appetizer/dessert using craft beer as one of the main ingredients and then pair said appetizer/dessert with a craft beer. Each year the restaurants/caterers partake in a friendly competition vying for a variety of titles at the Taste of Hops judged by the public who sample their exquisite fare. Attendees receive a complimentary 5 oz. glass. Participants must be 21+ years of age to sample the craft beer. Participating restaurants: Colgate Inn; Creekside Inn; Empire Farm Brewery; Good Nature Farm Brewery; HipStir Café; No. 10 Tavern; Napoleon’s Café; and Poolville Country Store.
At 1:30 Crowning of Hop King 2017 inside of Taste of Hops Tent. Come see the title of Hop King 2017 bestowed upon Rich Michaels, Quality and Innovation Manager for FX Matt Brewing Company of Utica for his work with hop and barley farmers and processors, higher education, tourism, and beer production and marketing teams to promote a culture of beer excellence in NYS.
At 2:00 pm Assemblyman Bill Magee, the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, the Sixth Hop Fest King, and continued supporter of the Madison County Historical Society’s efforts to preserve hop heritage, will make comments on how legislation has supported hop growing and brewing. Bill will also speculate on the future of the growing hop industry. Magee has recently announced legislation that he also authored which will allow farm cideries to sell their products to licensed wineries and celeries. In 2000 Magee asked MCHS to convene, in cooperation with Cornell University and Morrisville State College, a public meeting with brewers and growers. Out of this initial meeting eventually developed the Northeast Hop Alliance. Centenarian Mary Rose Duryea, who was crowned in 2003 as the first Hop Fest queen will share her memories as a hop picker, and of her family’s hop farming to supplement the income from their dairy farm – including profits during Prohibition. Dupree’s family is a sponsor of the Hop Fest.
Craft Beer Sampling of over 30 craft breweries from 2:30- 5:30. Tickets-$30 advance/ $35 at the door. Participants receive a 5 oz. glass. Come enjoy craft beer and hard cider from: Copper Turret Brewery; Cortland Beer; Omega; Empire; Erie Canal Brewing; Lenneberg; WT Brews; Good Nature; Middle Ages; Saranac; Seneca St. Pub; New Belgium; Binghamton; Southern Tier; Collective Arts; All gash; Well; Young; Firestone Walker; Millhouse Brewing; Schofferhofer; Troegs; Bronx; Down East; Spaten; Stone; Laugnitas; Dog Fish; Sierra Nevada; Brooklyn; Wachusett; Harpoon; Switchback; Oskar Blues; Abita; Smutty Nose; Cider Creek; Ithaca; 1911 Hop Cider; Adirondack; Browns; Founders; Critz Farms Brewing and Cider Co.; Woodchuck Cider; Butternuts; Bells; and Six Point. Brewery Representatives will be on hand to answer all your beer questions. Participants must be 21+ years of age to sample the craft beer. Advance Craft Beer Sampling tickets are $30 or $35 at the door. Buy them ahead at the following locations: Kraig’s Kegs in Sherrill; MCHS; Empire Brewing Co. in Cazenovia; WT Brews in Baldwinsville; Copper Turret in Morrisville, or at www.madisoncountyhopfest.org.
Michael Tomlan PhD, professor and director of the Historic Preservation Program at Cornell University, will return to Hop Fest to talk about his research and travels of his acclaimed 1992 publication Tinged with Gold: Hop Culture in the United States at 3:00 pm inside of the society’s agricultural barn. When Dr. Tomlan came to MCHS to present his hop research and to sign his book, the audience of older citizens overflowed the room. It became apparent that these people had come out of first-hand experience with hop growing and were eager to talk about hops – with or without Tomlan. It was clear that the rich memories in the hop yard would be soon gone as that generation lost members to aging. Tomlan’s work was recognized by his crowning as Hop King in 2000.
Carl Stearns, popular preservation architect, will present his illustrated talk, “The Evolution of the Central New York Hop House” at 4:00 pm inside of the society’s agricultural barn. Farmers showed ingenuity and resourcefulness in building their own hop houses. Stearns will explain the four main elements of a hop house, and the purpose of each of the components. Carl’s direct association with several hop houses, including his own, demonstrates his model of self-initiation preservation. Stearns work was recognized by his crowning as Hop King in 2000. Stearn’s presentation is an excellent preparation for persons who may be going on the Hop Heritage Tour on Sunday, September 17. Carl will be a guide on that tour. The public is encouraged to attend the hop heritage programs which are free. The Madison County Hop Fest is pleased that this project is supported by NY Humanities Action Grant.
Throughout the afternoon there will be brewing demonstrations by American Home Brewers Association, BIER Club, exhibits on the history of hops, raffle drawings of beer related merchandise, Hop Shop filled with Norm Dann’s hop plants and hop sterling jewelry, hop-related items. The following exhibitor booths and food vendor will be on site all afternoon-NeHA, Northern Eagle Hop Pelletizing Co., Glass Goat, Foothill Hops, and Jims’ Pitstop and Fast Foods.
The Madison County Hop Fest weekend event concludes with a Hop Heritage Tour on Sunday, September 17. During the tour we will visit 1867 English Limestone Oast House to study the architectural beauty of the structure. The last crop of hops grown on the farm was in 1911. Visitors will step inside the Oast House to see how hops were dried and pressed in this unique building. The tour will continue with a visit to Foothill Hops, a family-owned hop yard established in 2001 in Munnsville. Kate and Larry Fisher began growing hops in 2001, earning the distinction of the second commercial hop yard in New York State. Many acres and equipment inventions later, the Fishers are recognized authorities on hop growing, and are generous with their time and advice to others. The Fishers were instrumental in the incorporation of the Northeast Hop Alliance, and were the King and Queen of the Madison County Hop Fest in 2004. The next stop will be at the site of the first commercial hop yard in Bouckville with a visit to James Coolidge’s grave site as he is notably recognized for introducing commercial hop growing to NYS. There will be stops at two double pyramidal hop kilns to examine the layout of the kiln and the four hop processing rooms used during the 19th century. A stop at Morrisville State College to see a modern mechanical hop picker used today and to visit the Copper Turret to hear about the Brewing Institute Program offered at the college and to get a behind the scenes tour of the brewery that is slated to open to the public in October. The tour will stop for lunch and brewery tour of Empire Farm Brewery in Cazenovia. Dot Willsey, hop heritage promoter, and Carl Stearns, preservation architect will guide the tour sharing Madison County’s proud hop heritage during the tour’s journey. Tickets for the tour are $30. Reservation required by September 8. Lunch will be at Empire Farm Brewery. Attendees receive a complimentary 5 oz. glass. We ask that attendees dress accordingly. Close toed shoes are required to tour the breweries. The tour will start at 9 am at the Madison County Historical Society located at 435 Main Street in Oneida and ends there at 5 pm. The Hop Heritage Tour is made possible from the generous support from Humanities of New York and Hale Transportation Group.
There is no admission to attend the Hop Fest. There is an admission fee for the Craft Beer Sampling, Taste of Hops, Paired Beer Dinner, and Hop Heritage Tour. For more information and to purchase tickets online, please visit our website-madisoncountyhopfest.org. The tradition of promoting the art of craft brewing and the influence of the hop industry on New York State continues at the Madison County Hop Fest. Proceeds from the Hop Fest support the educational programming at the Madison County Historical Society. We appreciate your support in our efforts to share New York State’s hop culture. The Madison County Hop Fest is made possible from the most generous support from The Gorman Foundation, Oneida Dental Group, Liberty Tabletop, Assemblyman Bill Magee, Community Bank, Foothill Hops, Humanities of New York, Hale Transportation Group, and the Oneida Daily Dispatch.