The Hop Festival in Hubbard will return for its 43rd year this July and, this time, organizers say it will be more of a community event than ever.
The event has always been put on by the Hubbard Volunteer Firefighters, a separate association from Hubbard Fire District. But last year's festival was canceled because of misinformation regarding the Hubbard Fire District's insurance and a lack of manpower, Hubbard Fire Chief Steve Brewer said.
This year, everything will be back as it was before: It will still be the third Saturday in July, will have a parade, nonprofit vendors and a beer garden, and the event will still be a means to pour money back into the community.
"Meeting the community's needs is really what Hop Fest is about," Brewer said. "I'd say 95 percent of the money that's raised at Hop Fest goes back into the community."
However, the volunteer firefighters association, which has been in charge, is stepping back and allowing more community input.
"The association still runs it but is giving the opportunity for community input," Brewer said.
Like any large festival, a board of directors is going to form so Hop Festival is completely separate from the fire district.
"A lot of people thought the fire district did Hop Fest," Board President Jeff Robinson said. "But the district has always been separate, and this is a way to show that we are separate."
The only other real change to this year's event is that firefighters will not be allowed to serve alcohol in the beer garden, as it could cross a line as public servants, explained Robinson.
"We don't want to portray ourselves as anything but responsible and professional," he said. "We have to maintain a high standard."
Brewer added, "We are a volunteer department, but we don't operate as a volunteer department; these guys act professional. We're trying to organize a family-friendly event."
In fact, the role of firefighters in the beer garden was the only real concern insurance provider Special Districts Association of Oregon (as well as Scott Gustafson of Gustafson Insurance in Canby, the district's agent of record) had regarding Hop Fest, despite misinformation spread last year, Brewer said.
Regardless of last year, newly promoted Capt. Mike Karhmann is leading the charge toward Hop Festival, which should have a new board of directors in the coming weeks that will move full steam ahead toward a July 15 event.
"This is not just piecing together a festival to appease the community," Brewer said. "The group is now 100 percent into it and it's going to truly be a community event."