Beer and live music were brought together at the first-ever Hopfest in Red Deer.
Nine artists performed next to a hop field at the music festival at Hard Hels Hops farm on Saturday.
“We honestly thought that people needed something like this right now,” said Jaclyn Smith, who owns the hop farm with her husband Colin.
The year has been tough for many people, said Smith.
“We wanted a reason for the community to come together and celebrate. It also gives these amazing artists, who haven’t been able to do much this year, to get onto a stage and play in front of people again.”
The entire event was planned in just three weeks, said Smith.
“All the pieces kind of came together,” she said.
“We were approached with this idea by Jared (Griesbach) from Red Hart Brewing, who is a really good friend of ours. He knew we wanted to start a hop festival and we just decided to go for it.”
Both Red Hart Brewing and Belly Hope Brewing were on site and selling beer at the festival.
Smith said the farm was a perfect venue for an event like this.
“We’ve cut out a little space, because we did envision doing things like this and weddings, which we’ll start doing next year,” she said.
“It was still a lot of work – any music festival is a lot of work, I’m sure. This is the first one we’ve been a part of putting on. With COVID, there were a lot of other things we had to work around, such as the spacing. But we figured out a really decent system where we can get groups of six together with proper social distancing.”
About 140 of the 160 available tickets were sold in advance of the event, she said, adding she hopes next year’s event will be even bigger.
“Who knows how many people will be here next year? Hopefully, COVID is done and over with by then,” Smith said.
Paeton Cameron, who was playing with two bands during the festival and organized the acts performing Saturday, said he was thrilled to get a chance to play at an event like this.
“This is kind of the biggest event of the year we’ve been a part of,” said Cameron, who is also the chief organizer of the Downtown Business Association’s Ross Street Patio music program.
“This is the kind of thing you always dream of doing. As a musician you always think it’d be cool to play a place like this and I think the current state of global affairs has allowed people to think outside the box and create something we maybe wouldn’t have created under normal circumstances.”
Cameron said a hop farm is a unique venue.
“It’s like being in Napa Valley – it’s wonderful. Everyone here has an affinity for beer, local beer in particular, and we all love music, so this is a nice marriage between the two,” he said.
“If it were any other venue, it wouldn’t have the same appeal.”