The first-ever Hogs and Hops Festival was held in Dover Saturday, Aug. 25 on the grounds of the Fordham and Dominion Brewing Company in Dover. Despite dismal weather, the turn out was better than expected and organizers say that once the money is counted, the event will have likely raised more than $10,000 for local wounded and deceased firefighters and policemen.


First-time festival organizers never know what to expect. Anything can go wrong, from unruly patrons and missing vendors to weather nightmares or a lack of food.

However, the first Hogs and Hops Festival held on the grounds of the Fordham and Dominion Brewery in Dover went off without a hitch pulling people in from up and down the state and even as far west as Ohio and as far south as North Carolina.

Event Chairman Mark Hoffman said he couldn’t be more pleased with how things turned out.

“We had zero issues,” Hoffman said. “No problems whatsoever. No fights. Nobody had to be kicked out. It was great.”

Festival organizers haven’t done an official count of the funds raised, but the preliminary numbers sound promising: 1,000 pre-sale tickets and an estimated 1,000 walk-ups sold.    

Hoffman added that they also went through 44 half-kegs and awarded $2,000 in prize money.

Saturday’s biggest draw, though, had to be the barbecue competition. A total of 26 teams from Delaware, Maryland and beyond competed with three taking home trophies and, including first-time competitor Chad Messina of  the Alpha Q team. Messina was named Grand Champion, People’s Choice Award Winner and Pork Butt Winner. It was a sweet win for Messina, his team and even event organizers because the barbecue aficionado has been battling cancer and just last Thursday, Aug. 23, he found out he’d be competing cancer-free.

“Knowing what he went through, it was a great moment to see him win and be able to give him those awards,” Hoffman said. “He was so happy and had tears in his eyes. Everybody was thrilled for him.”

And, while rain might ruin most events, the downpours seemed to only add to this event.

“Nobody left because of the rain,” Hoffman aid. “Actually, the rain seemed to get people moving. They started dancing in front of the stage and ‘woodstocking’ it by sliding through the mud and just going with it. I don’t know how we can top that next year.”

Speaking of next year, Hoffman said they are already looking forward to it and people can expect to see them again in 2013.

“We learned a lot,” Hoffman said. “We’ll probably add more beer and add a pre-paid ticket line to keep things moving.”

And, it’s not just ticket-holders who are hoping for a repeat. Competitors like Milford’s Chris Young of Mr. BBQ would like to see the event come back as a sanctioned Kansas City Barbeque Society event.

“It worked out pretty good here,” Young said. “It would be great if they were approved because this is a great central location for people who like to compete in the KCBS events.”

Hoffman said that based on competitor feedback, they will be putting in their KCBS application and hope to get know something in the coming weeks.

“Everything points to it working out, which is great for us and the whole area,” Hoffman said. “We can’t wait for next year.”