Fun on tap: Hops for Hope pulls all elements together for a great night

This qualifying heat for the tricycle race is off to a slow start.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

This qualifying heat for the tricycle race is off to a slow start.

Churchill Downs has nothing on Blount County.

While the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” may still take place at the Kentucky Derby, the Hops for Hope Tricycle raises are coming on strong.

At least that’s what Trudy Hughes and the planners of Hops say, and they’re sticking to it!

Hughes, executive director of the New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center, said that this year’s third annual Hops for Hope, held Friday evening, May 6, at Dancing Bear Lodge, was a sell-out, and the agency had to turn away those who called on Friday to purchase tickets.

“I’m still waiting on a dollar amount, but the feedback seemed very, very positive. We estimated we had a little over 250 people on property and that was our biggest crowd ever,” Hughes said. “I didn’t hear any negative comments. I think everyone had a really good time.”

The executive director said the most watched portion of the event was the Tricycle Race.

“It was our own little Kentucky Derby. We had 20 competitors - our biggest field ever. We had five different flights of competitors who fought to the finish,” she said. “It was fast and furious with burnouts and a couple of wrecks. It was NASCAR trike racing at it finest.”

The “hops,” as well, took their share of attention and praise with beer from six different brewers on tap for people to sample. Brewers included Smoky Mountain, Depot Street, Old Hickory, Marble City, home brewers and Chattanooga Brewing, as well as samples from The Market at Washington and High.

“Todd White and Mike Adams are great to select a beverage from their store to bring and share as well,” Hughes said.

Hughes said the event is a board-led and volunteer-led happening that the community really looks forward to.

“It is really great to see everybody have such a great time. Because it is such a board-led and volunteer-led event, it is also a nice event to work on, because the work is divided among a large group of people. It is not a big task for one or two to accomplish,” she said.

Sharing the spotlight with the beer and racing was the food and facility. The temperatures were perfect and most of the guests spent the majority of their time outside at Dancing Bear Lodge. “I can’t say enough for Dancing Bear and their willingness to host and offer the great food they provide. Folks rave about the venue and the great appetizers and desserts. People were trying to hide desserts and carry them out they were so good.”

Appetizers left no one hungry, with chef-carved pork tenderloin and prime roast on rolls, fried grit cakes that disappeared as quickly as they were replenished, a lavish assortment of cheeses and antipasto and both cheddar and Benton’s ham biscuits.

The arts weren’t forgotten, either, with Pistol Creek Catch of the Day providing music, Maryville College art student Aaron Carroll and woodcarvers from the Smoky Mountains Woodcarvers Guild demonstrating their worker, then offering the creations up for bid in the silent auction.

Hughes was pleased with how the Hops for Hope 2011 turned out. “The event provided a fun venue of great beer to sample, food to sample, music to listen to and art to bid on during the silent auction,” she said.

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