Madison County Hop Fest
Kings and Queens
Past and Present Hop Fest Royalty gather for the induction of Hop Fest King 2019, Rick Pedersen at the 24th Annual Madison County Hop Fest.
L to R seated: Dot Willsey(Hop Queen 2005), Sydney L. Loftus(Hop Queen 2007), Kate Fisher(Hop Queen 2004). L to R standing: Al Bullard(Hop King 2002), Dr. Norman K. Dann(Hop King 2005), David Katleski(Hop King 2010), Rich Michaels(Hop King 2017), Micheal Coons(Hop King 2018), Carl Stearns(Hop King 2000), Matt Whalen(Hop King 2012), Rick Pedersen(Hop King 2019), and Larry Fisher(Hop King 2004). Image courtesy of Amanda Ciarlei Photos.
Rick Pedersen, Hop King 2019 cutting the hop bine to open the Taste of Hops event at the 24th Annual Madison County Hop Fest.
Image courtesy of Amanda Ciarlei Photos.
Michael Coons , Hop King 2018 (L) placing the 2019 Hop King Crown on Rick Pederson (L) at the 24th Annual Madison County Hop Fest. Image courtesy of Amanda Ciarlei Photos.
Hop Queen 2003, Mary Rose Durfee.
Image courtesy of Amanda Ciarlei Photos.
Hop Royalty Court
This tradition recognizes an individual or individuals who have demonstrated a passion for honoring hop heritage in our region. The selected individual or individuals must follow the generous and committed example set forth by the first Hop Fest King -John Alden Haight. John Alden Haight was a Professor Emeritus of Horticulture at Morrisville State College. He was passionate about hop heritage and actively shared his wealth of knowledge on hops with everyone, expanding hop awareness in the region.
1996 - John Alden Haight, Professor Emeritus of Horticulture at Morrisville State College, was recognized and admired for his knowledge of hop culture. John spent decades contributing countless hours researching hop culture and sharing his knowledge most enthusiastically and generously with everyone.
1997 - Keith Eisaman, resided on the farm of his father, Durwood Eisaman, who grew the last commercial hop crop in Madison County. The 1950 crop came from a field that once raised over 4000 pounds of hops per season. He was the star of the video, "When Hops Was King".
1998 - Michael Tomlan, Associate Professor and Director, Graduate Program in Historic Preservation Planning, College of Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell University, author of the comprehensive text, Tinged With Gold, and loyal supporter of the Madison County Historical Society’s Hop Fest. He is a past speaker at the Fest and hop tour. It was Tomlan’s 1993 MCHS presentation on the hop culture that lead to Hop Fest.
1999 - Tom Kernan, former Executive Director of MCHS, provided lectures on hop culture, producer of "When Hops was King" and Bittersweet: Hop Culture in Central New York exhibit.
2000 - Carl Stearns, a former partner in Crawford and Stearns, Architects and Preservation Planners, past speaker at Fest, assisted in the first Madison County Hop Tour and many thereafter. He is well known for his rural preservation efforts in Madison County.
2001 - Assemblyman Bill Magee, Chairman of the NY House Agriculture Committee and lead supporter of hop-related programs. A longtime supporter of the Madison County Historical Society. He is a strong supporter of the effort to reestablish the hops industry in Madison County and New York State.
2002 - Al Bullard, hop artifact collector, hop house historian, and speaker at the Fest. Al has a passion for “all things hop” and actively continues to locate and describe remaining hop houses in a seven-county area. Al started collecting the tools associated with hop farming, as well as growing hops collected from hedgerows in Central New York.
2003 - Mary Rose Durfee, Hop Fest finally got its first queen – a vivacious hop picker. Mary Rose Durfee became smitten with the Hop Fest and the Fest felt likewise with her when she shared her early memories as a hop picker. With great enthusiasm, Mary told of her family’s hop farming to supplement their dairy farm. With great animation, she revealed her family’s beer-making profits during Prohibition.
2004 - Kate and Larry Fisher, Foothill Hops, Modern day hop growers, and NeHA charter members. Their interest in hops was sparked by a historical study of railroading in the Stockbridge Valley and the economic and social impacts of it on the hop industry. Inspired by this history and attendance at Hop Fests, Kate and Larry started an organic hop yard, Foothill Hops, to recapture the past landscape into the present day. The Fishers are active participants and presenters at the Madison County Hop Fest and are charter members of the Northeast Hop Alliance (2000). Today, they own and operate Foothill Hops Farm Brewery in Munnsville.
2005 - Dot Wilsey and Norm Dann, hop historians, organizers of first Hop Fest (1996) and second couple to be named Hop Fest's King and Queen. They are still staunch supporters of the Fest. Dot serves on the committee and does a remarkable job organizing the Hop Tour and programs. Dot began thinking about the Hop Fest back in 1993 while Norm began asking Bouckville landowners for permission to dig up their hop rhizomes. Norm selflessly continues to grow Bouckville Hedgerow hops and donates them to the society to sell in the Hop Shop. Norm and Dot have traveled far and wide in search of all things hops and have always managed along the way to educate those interested in the hop cone.
2006 - Barbara Giambastiani Bartlett, former Executive Director of MCHS, arranged for a study on hop houses from which fieldwork, articles, and books were written because of her work.
2007 - Sydney L. Loftus, Executive Director of MCHS, Hop Fest Chairwoman, curated the Hop exhibit at the Daniel Parrish Witter Agricultural Museum on the New York State Fairgrounds. Sydney secured grant funding for a Cultural Resource Survey through Preserve New York to document Hop Heritage Sites in Madison County. She also initiated a sponsorship campaign for Hop Fest, created the Taste of Hops: a food and beer pairing, and continues to manage all other aspects of the Fest.
2008 - Dan Mitchell, Owner, Ithaca Beer Company and producer of NYS hop beer. In 1999, Dan Mitchell wrote a paper at Cornell University titled “The history of hop” which became part of the Northeast Hop Alliance initiative.
2009 - Becca Jablonski, former Agriculture Economic Specialist for Madison County, who secured grant funding for the Hop Harvester now housed at Morrisville State College.
2010 - David Katleski, Founder and President of Empire Brewing Company and President of the New York Brewer’s Association and advocate for the use of New York grown hops. In 2010, David Katleski, Tim Butler, and the Empire Brewing Company created the Empire State Pale Ale, the first beer produced with one hundred percent Madison County, New York hops in over 50 years.
2011 - Senator David Valesky, advocate for the NYS Farm Brewery Legislation and longtime supporter of the Madison County Historical Society. He is a strong supporter of the effort to reestablish the hops industry in Madison County and New York State.
2012 - Carrie Blackmore and Matt Whalen, Owners, Good Nature Brewing, was among New York's first Farm Breweries. They handcraft all-natural ales brewed with local ingredients collaborating with local farmers, artists, & small businesses to celebrate all that our region and our community have to offer.
2013 - Steve Miller, former NYS Hops Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County consulted hundreds of potential, beginning, and experienced hop growers expanding the number of acres of hops in New York State from less than 20 to be over 150 acres. Steve has sought and obtained both public and private funding to further the mission of hop education and research in New York State and has guided the establishment of at least four research and demonstration hop yards in New York, including one in Madison County at Morrisville State College.
2014 - Dr. Chris Nyberg, Dean of the School of Agriculture, Sustainability, Business Entrepreneurship at Morrisville State College received the SMART Lab manufacturing program grant to be used to create a hops processing, barley malting, and brewing facility to enhance further understanding of hop production.
2015 - Don Cazentre, Food & Drink writer for syracuse.com and The Post-Standard and author of 2nd edition of New York Breweries. Don’s ongoing participation at Hop Fest as a past guest speaker and co-emcee of the Taste of Hops coupled with his knowledge and passion of craft beer that he shares with this readers through his numerous articles and the recent book garnered him the distinction of Hop King 2015.
2016 - John Henneberg, owner, and brewer of Henneberg Brewing, a farm brewery founded in the summer of 2013, was Cazenovia’s first brewery and Madison County’s second brewery. Henneberg’s operations were mostly built by him from the brewing kettle system to his barley malting and roasting setups. John began brewing 9 years ago with a homebrew kit for the production of twin 55-gallon kettles, making 1.25 BBLS (barrels) to 5 BBLs at a time. In October of 2017, John closed his brewery.
2017-Rich Michaels, former Quality and Innovation Manager of FX Matt Brewing Company where he is responsible for product development and quality assurance operations. Michaels instructs and advises brewing science and technology programs at several NYS colleges including Morrisville State College. For the past several years, Michaels and FX Matt Brewing Company have hosted a hop-picking event on a historic hop farm and have produced an annual specialty beer that utilizes Heritage Hops from Central New York. Through collaboration with other brewers in NYS and across the country there are beers that have featured Madison County and CNY hops. His efforts ensure that Madison County will be recognized not only for its hop heritage but as the current and future home of hops in New York State. Rich Michaels is the Head Brewer at Frog Alley Brewing.
2018- Micheal Coons, former Head Brewer at Morrisville State College’s Brewing Institute in Morrisville. Mr. Coons led Morrisville State College Brewing Institute at the 2018 U.S. Open College Beer Championship and won the title of Grand National Champion Brewing School in North America. Micheal Coons supports hops and barley production in Madison County and Central New York by using 100% Madison County hops and 85-100% other NYS agricultural products in the beers produced by Morrisville State College's Copper Turret Farm Brewery. Micheal is Head Brewer at Critz Farms Brewing and Cider Company.
2019- Rick Pederson, Pedersen Farms, Seneca Castle,
planted the first commercial hops to be grown in NY since Prohibition in 1999. Since that time the craft brew industry has grown tremendously in New York and the rest of the Northeast. One of their first customers was Ithaca Beer Company who produced a beer made entirely of NY hops in 2004. Since that time Pedersen Farms has sold hops to many craft breweries throughout the US. Rick is an active member of the Northeast Hop Alliance. Rick often speaks at meetings in New York and other states about hop production.