Madison, Oneida, and Otsego counties dominated the nation’s hop production from 1808 to the 1880s in New York State, which was producing eighty percent of the total crop in the U.S. The tour will visit select hop heritage sites in Madison County with Carl Stearns a preservation architect, from the firm Crawford and Stearns Architects and Preservation Planners, as our tour guide. Carl has presented programs on the architectural evolution of a Hop House at past Hop Fests, with his expertise in the field of the CNY Hop House from the earliest kilns to the “twin” kiln form, along with the rotating cowl or roof vent, our trip around Madison County examining the hop industry will definitely be informative.
Our stop at Holly and Ron Marshall’s 1867 limestone oast house was built in the style commonly seen in the countryside of Kent, England. An oast house is a distinctive hop-drying building. Larry and Kate Fishers’ present day hop yard and shop at Foothill Hops on provides multiple experiences: seeing varieties of hops growing on a trellis system, watching the mechanical hop picker designed and built by Fishers, smelling the lupulin in the fresh hops as they are picked by participants, and tasting hop products developed by Foothill Hops. We will also visit Donna and Keith Merkt’s newly restored “common” kiln shows the earnest and careful efforts of the owners and a preservation carpenter to preserve an architectural treasure – and how uncommon each hop farmer’s kiln was in hop growing days.
The Chenango Canal Cottage Museum serves as the anchor for the Bouckville section of the tour that reminds us that the first agricultural cash crop in New York State started in Bouckville in 1808 with rhizome plantings by James Coolidge. Many bales of hops were shipped along the canal. James Coolidge’s farm that recently received a historical marker and gravesite will also be part of the tour. The Town of Madison Historical Society held a dedication ceremony in May marking Coolidge’s hop field in the county.
After traveling along Scenic NYS Route 20 and the Chenango Canal, the tour group will head for Poolville to have a picnic lunch catered from the Poolville Country Store at one of the two twin pyramidal hop houses built by the Stebbins brothers on opposite sides of the Sangerfield River Valley during the thriving days of hop farming. One brother built the twin design at Drover Hill Farm on Poolville Road and the other brother built the Shwartz double pyramidal hop kiln on Borden Road. The twin kilns had a common storage area and a double floor attachment. The coach stops at Drover Hill Farms. William and Stephanie Lipsey have created a Bed and Breakfast from the section of the Drover Hill farmhouse that provided boarding quarters to hop-pickers. The hop house got a new roof with assistance from a New York State Barn Grant.
The coach will head for Hamilton for a tour and sampling of fine craft beer brewed at Good Nature Brewing. Steve Miller, Madison County Hop Specialist will meet the coach at Morrisville State College to observe the German mechanical hop picker that the college acquired.
The tour concludes with dinner at the Copper Turret where chef, Kerry Beadle will provide a description of the six course hop inspired dinner created just for the hop tour. Kerry Beadle received his culinary training at the State University of New York at Cobleskill and has been a faculty member at Morrisville State College for 16 years. He is a Certified Executive Chef and Certified Culinary Administrator with the American Culinary Federation as well as a Master Certified Food Executive with the International Food Service Executives Association.
Madison County Hop Kiln Tour advance tickets are $51 until August 10, and then they are $56. Tickets are limited and available at the society, or at www.mchs1900.org/hopfest. The guided coach tour will leave the grounds of the Madison County Historical Society at 9 am and return at 6:30 pm. Mishell Magnusson of Munnsville and author of Images of America Madison and Hamilton will be available to sign copies of her new book of said title. Her book that includes images of the beautiful hop kilns and hop yards that were once prevalent in those two towns will also be available for purchase.
Come spend the weekend celebrating the 17th Annual Madison County Hop Fest by attending the paired beer dinner at Centro’s Restaurant on Friday, Sept. 14. Tickets for the paired beer dinner are $50. Tickets are limited and must be reserved by Sept 7. They are available at the society, or at www.mchs1900.org/hopfest. On Saturday, September 15, join us on the grounds of the Madison County Historical Society at 435 Main Street in Oneida from 11:00 am- 5:30 pm with daylong presentations on hop culture, a raffle, hopshop, and home brewer demonstrations, and crowning of the Madison County Hop King and Queen. From 12-2pm join us for the Taste of Hops: a food and beer pairing. Tickets are $20 advance, $25 at the door if available, only 150 will be sold. From 2:30-5:30 pm Saturday’s activities continue under the Craft Beer Sampling Tent where participants can sample over 30 styles of craft beer. Tickets for the craft beer sampling are $25 advance/ $30 at the door. Advance craft beer tickets can be purchased at Arnie’s Produce/Kraig’s Kegs in Sherrill, Good Nature Brewing in Hamilton, the historical society, or at www.mchs1900.org/hopfest.
There is no admission to attend the Hop Fest. Admission is charged for the Paired Beer Dinner, Taste of Hops, Craft Beer Sampling, and the Madison County Hop Kiln Tour. No one under the age of 21 will be permitted to enter the events where beer is served. Proper ID is required for entrance to all areas where beer is served! Please do not bring children, strollers, or pets to the event. Tickets will be available for designated drivers (who must be 21 years of age) at the entrance of the brewery-sampling tent. For more information or purchasing tickets, please contact the society at 315.363.4136, 315.361.9735, www.mchs1900.org/hopfest. Like Hop Fest on Facebook. All proceeds from the Hop Fest support the educational programming at the Madison County Historical Society.