Since 2016, Whatcom Sports and Recreation has partnered with Rebound of Whatcom County to bring Hoptoberfest to the Bellingham Sportsplex. The event raises money for scholarship funds for local youth who couldn’t otherwise afford to attend camps. This year’s event takes place Saturday, October 19th.

Being October in Washington, the event is held entirely indoors. “We have all of our beverage vendors on our big soccer field. Our food and beverage vendors will be located indoors in our soccer facility,” says event organizer Elsha Grimes of Whatcom Sports and Recreation.

A bird’s-eye-view of Hoptoberfest 2018. Photo courtesy: Whatcom Sports and Recreation

Last year’s event saw 20 beverage vendors, and as of late September, there were already 25 registered for this year. “We’re hoping for 30, that’s our goal,” Grimes says. “And then we have a cornhole tournament on our small field. So a little bit of everything.”

Attendees will be able to choose from beer, cider, wine and liquor and this year’s guests include big names like Lost Giants Cider Company, Kulshan Brewing Company, and Probably Shouldn’t Distillery. Other notable participants include Herb’s Cider, Papa Bueno Tequila, Stemma Brewing, and Eagle Haven Winery.

“This is the first year we have wine at our event,” says Grimes. “We have a lot of ciders, too. It’s Octoberfest so a lot of people think beer—but we’re excited to promote wine, cider and liquor, as well.”

Food vendors this year include Big Hot Wieners, a food stand dedicated to bringing East Coast-style dogs to the Northwest. Something Cheesy will also be in attendance, serving up delicious menu items like a classic grilled cheese or tatchos: tater tot nachos. And last, but certainly not least, Jalapenos will be passing out tacos and other small bites from their taco truck, notoriously spotted around town. Hempler’s will have a table set up displaying their top-notch meat products available for purchase.

The first Hoptoberfest occurred back in 2016 as a fundraiser to supply scholarships to kids who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford sports camps. Grimes estimates that roughly 500 people attended Hoptoberfest in 2018, saying that the number has been pretty steady each year.

“Our goal is to have more,” Grimes says. The event itself has always been pretty smooth and low-key. “You come in, you get your tasting cup, you get your tickets, you give your ticket to the vendor, and you just drink and socialize.” There are tables set up on the soccer field for guests to sit at, and the band plays up on the concourse area, where dancing has been known to break out. Sunset Superman brings the live music entertainment every year.

Sunset Superman was founded in Bellingham in 2007 as a means to celebrate classic rock music. Their website has full-length covers of favorite songs like “Purple Rain” and “Don’t You Forget About Me.” They perform at Bellingham’s Wild Buffalo, but also make appearances at community events. Coming up later this year, you can catch them at the New Year’s Eve party at the Deming Log Show. To stay up to date with the band, follow their Facebook page. This year, the band’s performance at Hoptoberfest is sponsored by Haggen Northwest.

A view of the large soccer field, with drink vendors and tables. Photo courtesy: Whatcom Sports and Recreation

Whatcom Sports and Recreation is a local nonprofit dedicated to maintaining pristine sporting facilities. Its Philips 66 Soccer Park is considered the one of the finest soccer facilities in the state, according to the Whatcom Sports and Recreation website. Whatcom Sports and Recreation uses funds to host camps for both children and adults in soccer, skating, and hockey.

Rebound of Whatcom County works with children and families experiencing trauma. Their Roots Family Enrichment Program has classes for both kids and parents. The parenting classes are designed to help parents connect with each other over shared experiences, and to build family enrichment skills. The kids groups help kids talk and work through the traumas affecting them. The classes happen in conjunction with each other, and are offered in both English and Spanish. Rebound also hosts the Ray of Hope Summer Day Camp, which is a six-week program intended to provide a “holistic, well-staffed, fun and safe summer.” You can find more info on these programs at Rebound’s website.

Tickets for this year’s Hoptoberfest can be purchased ahead of time at Bellingham.frontline-connect.com. Pre-ordered tickets are $20; VIP tickets can be purchased for $35. VIP access gets you into the venue an hour early, as well as two additional drink tickets. Tickets are available at the door for $25.

A spot in the cornhole tournament is free with admission and winners will walk away with prizes from local breweries. Want to sign up early? Drop an email to Eric at eric@bellingham.org.

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