The 24th Annual Madison County Hop Fest has been set for Saturday, September 14, at the Madison County Historical Society, 435 Main Street, Oneida.
The Madison County Hop Fest was created to raise awareness of the history and influence of hop culture, as well as for a fund-raiser for the county museum.
By the mid-1840s New York had become the nation’s leading producer of hops, a position it occupied unrivaled for over fifty years. The tenth census of the United States indicated that New York was producing over 21 million pounds, or over 80 percent of the total crop of the country. By 1819 the production of hops in Madison County had reached such a level that, in response to the demands of growers, the New York legislature passed a law calling for the compulsory inspection and grading of hops. Hop production had a profound economic impact on the regions in which it was cultivated.
Three hop heritage authorities, who have all been crowned Hop King at previous Madison County Hop Fests, and who have been supporters of the Hop Fest since its beginning twenty-four years ago, will return to the heritage programs with updates and expanded information. The presentations will be held in the Carriage Barn, the first site on the Madison County Hop Heritage tour.
At 10 am, with the opening of the Madison County Hop Fest, Al Bullard will take his post in the Carriage Barn at the Bittersweet: Hop Culture in Central New York exhibit. Bullard, the author of The Hop Farmer’s Year: the Seasons, Tools & Methods of Hop Growers in New York State’s Golden Age of Hops, will be available to answer questions on the exhibit, demonstrate tools from his own collection, and help visitors identify tools that they bring to the Fest.
Bullard earned his B.S. in history from Lebanon Valley College, and his M.A. in Folklife Studies and Museum Management from the Cooperstown Graduate Program of the State University of New York at Oneonta. His interest in hops began in graduate school and since then he has collected the stories, tools and artifacts of New York’s hop heritage. He has curated and contributed artifacts to various museum exhibits, most notably the five year exhibit When Hops Were King at the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown. He has written extensively on the subject, and has given lectures and participated in seminars and hop festivals. He is a retired teacher from Cooperstown Central School. Bullard was crowned Madison County Hop King in 2002.
At 2:15 pm Al Bullard will present Hop Equipment Manufactured in Central New York. Bullard will identify tools and equipment from specific manufacturing locations in Madison, Oneida, Otsego, and Schoharie counties and also show newly found tools. Visitors are encouraged to bring tools for Bullard’s identification.
At 3:15 Michael A. Tomlan PhD, author of Tinged with Gold: Hop Culture in the United States (1992) will explain Why Did the Hop Industry Move to the West? Tomlan’s research for his publication follows the USA hop industry from early days in Massachusetts, to the robust agricultural industry in New YorkState, and onward to the west. Hop farming artifacts were left behind which help to identify the growth ofthe industry. Madison County has, perhaps, the largest collection of 19 th and 20th C. hop houses.
Tomlan directs the graduate program in historic preservation planning at Cornell University. He teaches classes that deal with documentation techniques, fieldwork, preservation practice and urban change, the relationships between museums and the public, and preservation, planning, and religion. Tomlan is also the director of graduate studies in real estate. Tomlan served as chair of the Senior Board of Advisers to the Global Heritage Fund (Palo Alto, California), reviewing nominations for and the management of conservation projects in Asia, the Middle East, and Central and South America. He has consulted on projects abroad for the World Monuments Fund and the J. Paul Getty Trust. Additionally, Tomlan is current chair of the board of Yosothor, based in Cambodia; serves as a project director for the National Council for Preservation Education; and president of Historic Urban Plans, Inc., in Ithaca, New York. Tomlan was crowned the third Madison County Hop King in 1998.
At 3:15 Carl Stearns, the 2000 Madison County Hop King, will present an image-loaded PowerPoint; Relocating 19th C. Hop Houses. Madison County has lost some of its oldest hop houses to the sale and move of the special structures. As a preservation architect Stearns has traveled thru out the state on country roads locating many rural structures. Stearns is a well known in Central New York as a zealous preservation architect and has been involved in many organizations such as Preservation Association of New York State, the Adirondack Architectural Heritage, the NYS Barn Coalition, and the Arts and Crafts Society of CNY. Stearns, a retired partner of Crawford and Stearns Preservation Architects, was the Chair of the Madison County Bicentennial Architecture and Preservation Committee. Carl received an award from the NYS Barn Coalition for his rural preservation. He has moved a forgotten hop house along NYS 20 to his own property, and has been involved in other relocation projects. Stearns will also be a guide on the Madison County Hop Fest Tour the next day.
Hop heritage programs will continue on Sunday, September 15 with a 9 am to 5 pm Madison County tour of hop houses, hop production sites, and lunch. For more information on programs, tour, Taste of Hops, Craft Beer Sampling, and presentations, visit the event website.
Photo of Hop Exhibit at Madison County Hop Fest provided.