Plans are moving forward for the Mountain Town Hop Fest scheduled for Oct. 24, 2020 from 2-6 p.m.

Justin Quarles, the founding partner of Alabama Beer Promotions, said there will be more than 100 beers to sample, food, live music and games. Tickets are on sale now for $30, plus $1.23 tax and a $3 processing fee. The price will be $40 on the day of the event. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the “We Got Your Back” 501(c)3 campaign to raise awareness and show support for all members of law enforcement, firemen and women, EMTs, and other emergency responders through billboards and yard signs.

This year’s performers will be Dusty Smith from 2-4 p.m. and Ally Free from 4-6 p.m.

Last year’s event featured Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia beers and hard ciders.

“Most of our guests were actually from outside of Fort Payne, either other parts of Alabama but also many from Tennessee and Georgia,” said co-organizer Matthew Roeder of Alabama Beer Promotions, an Albertville-based company that helps breweries get their products out to communities.

“The brewers that attended [last year] all really enjoyed it and have been keeping in touch with us regarding this year. Confirmed to attend so far will be Birmingham District Brewing, Goat Island, Yellowhammer, Black Warrior and Ghost Train. We expect to add quite a few to that number by the time the festival is here!” Roeder said.

“We had a great response from the city as well as volunteers and partakers. Volunteers were great at helping us clean up afterward. We had no problems with law breakers,” Quarles said.

Fort Payne Main Street President Darlene Rotch said the organization is again hosting the Mountain Top Hop Fest.

“During the fourth quarter of 2019, Fort Payne Main Street conducted a series of focus group meetings to gauge community desires,” she said. “We set out to learn what citizens wanted -- what was important to them as individuals and what would make our community a bigger draw for tourists, residents and other businesses. These focus groups were well attended by merchants and business owners, large corporate partners, and others from a cross section of people in the community.”

Topping the wish-list was a brewery, deemed most likely to boost tourism.

“[The festival] brings brewers in from across the state and exposes them to our downtown culture,” Rotch said. “It is [Main Street’s] job to educate them about what buildings are available, any incentives we might have to recruit -- and in general, roll out the red carpet to show them we want to work with them. It was an extremely well-run event last year. People came early and shopped downtown, spent the night and enjoyed our restaurants. We're encouraging them to do that again this year. We're looking forward to the event.”

Throughout 2020, a long list of public events have been canceled because of uncertainty about coronavirus outbreaks and the government’s evolving response to the public health crisis. Fort Payne’s event will be the first that Alabama Beer Promotions has put together this year, and some precautions are planned in light of the pandemic. For example, the volunteers assigned to a certain brewery table and pouring various beer samples will wear masks.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines state that outdoor spaces where people from different households can get some separation are safer than indoor spaces with less ventilation. Bars with access to patio seating have continued to serve alcohol throughout the year, encouraging patrons to stay at least six feet from people they don’t live with, i.e., social distancing.

“Many other festivals have been cancelled this year, which those are normally in the summer. So everyone is looking forward to getting some much-needed marketing done for the respective brands,” Roeder said.

Preparation for the Mountain Town Hop Fest has been underway since June and the ticketing website pledges that refunds will be issued if circumstances change and the event is canceled due to COVID-19. Alabama’s color-coded map to assess risk had shown enough of a downward trajectory of new cases to be upgraded to “low risk” but the most recent map updated on Sept. 11 shows the county downgraded to “moderate risk.” It is unclear what the status will be in 38 days.

For tickets, visit https://mountaintownhopfest.ticketspice.com/mountain-town-hop-fest-2020 or follow the event page on Facebook at @mthopfest for regular updates. To volunteer or become a sponsor, email bamabeerpromos@gmail.com.

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