The Equestrian Center of Harford County will host of the first Hops 2 Grapes beer, wine and whiskey festival on Saturday, Oct. 19, an event organizer Philip McGuire hopes becomes an annual happening.
McGuire, of Forest Hill said Hops 2 Grapes will showcase some of the farm-based operations, like Independent Brewing Company and Falling Branch Brewery, and local vineyards and distillers that thrive and grow in Harford County.
Tickets, which range from $35 general admission to $60 VIP sessions which include 1-hour early entry, including unlimited sampling, with the option to purchase your favorite beverage. Designated driver tickets are also available for $15.
McGuire owns the vending company Kinda Jerky Really Nutty, which has been a vendor at more than 200 similar events along the East Coast over the past four years, he said.
From observing those events, he wanted to bring the best of what he has seen there to his own event, and host it in Harford County, where he grew up.
The Forest Hill resident said he was able to make a lot of connections with craft vendors and food truck owners from attending those other large-scale festivals, a number of whom will be at Hops 2 Grapes.
Approximately 20 breweries, wineries and distilleries will participate, most with Maryland ties.
The Harford Equestrian Center was the right the venue for the event, McGuire said, because it has a lot of space where people could park on site.
"They do the Farm Fair, but you never really see other events on a large scale there," McGuire said, adding because it is a Harford County Parks and Recreation facilty, he was very appreciative how welcoming and supportive the county has been.
He has also partnered with four area restaurants to offer shuttle service to the Equestrian Center. For an extra $5 with general admission purchase, attendees can catch a shuttle at Independent Brewing Company and Black Eyed Suzies in Bel Air, MacGregor's Restaurant in Havre de Grace and the Fallston Barrel House in Fallston, to and from the event.
Ticket sales for the event will benefit The Highlands School, located at 2409 Creswell Road in Bel Air, which educates students with dyslexia, ADHD and other language-based learning difficulties, according to its website.
"Expect a well organized event with great live music in both the general admission and VIP areas," McGuire said. "It's going to be a nice relaxing atmosphere."
Baltimore Sun reporter Sameer Rao contributed to this article.
If you go
What: Hops 2 Grapes
Where: Equestrian Center of Harford County, 608 N. Tollgate Road, Bel Air