Creating your own city, Hopfest brings unique experience to Downtown Greensboro

By Lindsay Kosma

April 25, 2017

If you take a moment to think of a destination, somewhere you would choose to go, it’s likely the places you’d come up with will have some things in common. Whether it be restaurants, arts, cultural attractions, or music, the places people want to go are outfitted for experience and connection. Vapid expressions like ‘wanderlust’ and ‘FOMO’ (Fear-Of-Missing-Out) create a yearning and an idea that you have to look elsewhere, outside of your home towns and cities, to find fulfillment and inspiration. While exploring other places certainly offers a wealth of benefit, it’s equally as important to focus on and seek out opportunities in your own community. And if you don’t find the opportunities you’re looking for, you can create them.

Social entrepreneur, Ryan Saunders, has spent the last several years doing just that. He has created countless programs and initiatives to help turn that ambition inwards and focus on his own city of Greensboro, NC.

HopFest planning team from left to right: Kate Ewen, Ryan Saunders, and Alex Flores

“Long story short I spent over a year traveling and living around San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Charleston and New York City as well as channeling my experience living in Austria in college. I absorbed the spirit and lifestyles that make these cities special and have channeled that into my work to revitalize both Greensboro and High Point” says Saunders.

Saunders’ ‘work’ falls primarily under the umbrella of the Create Your City venture, founded in 2012, whose mission is to grow and develop the local economy through community-wide artistic projects, music and cultural events, and support of local artists and causes. The aim is to make Greensboro, and the greater-triad area of NC, a cultural hub that attracts people and jobs.

Hopfest is the largest display of what Create Your City stands for. While the first two festivals were truly grassroots, taking place on a sod-covered parking lot with about 1500 in attendance, it has since grown tremendously. Starting off as a grassroots event, the festival really hit its stride in the third year attracting nearly 3,000 people. The fourth annual Hopfest 2017, which has matured and gained its own personality as a true music and arts festival, will be held at Tracks Bazaar this year. Tracks, located in downtown Greensboro, is a 3 acre site which is being developed as an entertainment district with an outdoor stage, micro-shops, bars and planned artist incubator. A former lumberyard with railroad warehouses and a silo, the large space is the perfect canvas for a creative event space. Saunders believes it will be a mainstay in Downtown Greensboro with Hopfest and a permanent food truck park coming this summer.

Beer Garden, High Point 2013

The festival will include 19 breweries and visitors can purchase 8 oz pours for $3 each or indulge in a VIP option that allows for unlimited sampling for 4-5 p.m. as well as a seating lounge including private restrooms for VIP only and a bar curated with special craft beer finds.

“We want to be able to continue to progress our music and arts programming while still keeping the event affordable so we did not want to have a $40 or $50 dollar unlimited sampling event. We focus on the beer but the music and the art is where the real passion lies.” says Saunders.

As for music, the programming is top-notch as art collective 5 Pointz Creates’ curated the lineup after being introduced to Saunders by a mutual friend, Jen Graff. The focus is to get Hopfest on the same radar as other, more established festivals by booking nationally recognized artists. They collaborated with friends who were inspired by culture surrounding venues like Five Pointz in Queens, NY and the culture being hip-hop, break dancing, beatboxing, scratch DJ’s, and graffiti.

“With 5 Pointz Creates’ choices in bringing Marley Marl, DJ JS-1, Beatbox House, Meres One, Sloke, Patch, etc. we are channeling a time in the past of a cultural evolution in New York and setting the scene for our own cultural evolution here in Greensboro.” Saunders said.

DJ Marley Marl

In addition to beer and music, Hopfest 2017 will also offer a variety of food trucks boasting many types of cuisine as well as a Pop-Up Flea Market. The flea market is a new feature this year, courtesy of Swamis Grotto, and will allow a platform for artisans to showcase and sell their work.

Hopfest is only one part of the Create Your City initiative but it has had the largest impact so far.

With a well-curated array of vendors and providers, Hopfest-goers are sure to get an experience comparable to some of the bigger name festivals while still having an intimate experience that is distinct and unique to Greensboro, NC.

Hopfest 2014

“Create the city you want to live in. One with entertainment, food, music, art and culture. You don’t have a music venue, shut down a street and throw out a stage. Don’t have an art gallery, paint a wall, don’t have the city you want to live in, create it.” says Saunders. “Hopfest is creating your city. Come add your brick to the foundation.”

More about Hopfest 2017 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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*CLTure is a proud partner of Hopfest 2017*

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