here’s to old friends: rocktown beer and music festival 2013.

*beer mug shown is actual size.

*beer mug shown is actual size.

Me and beer, we go way back. Been friends a loooooong time. Waaaay back.

I mean, back to my earliest memory. I was born in a hospital like most people, but Beer… he was born in a field. A field! Which made him a hardy, scrappy little feller. I first met Beer at daycare; he was a hoppy kid, bubbly, you know, cheersful. With always a little streak of rascal. On our first day of kindergarten, Beer fell off the monkey bars. The principal had to drive Beer to the E.R. (he was accident prone; ya can’t spell Beer without e-r.) X-rays revealed a broken arm, and he had to get a cask, which he used to terrorize everyone on the playground.

Yep, we was best buds through all them important milestones. Went through school together… on the weekends me and Beer would sneak outta my parents’ house and brew up all sorts of trouble. I remember learning to drive with him. He bout gave the driving instructor a heart attack; Beer never was the best driver… seemed to get a ticket ever time he got behind the wheel! I remember meeting him at Senior Prom and dancing to our Senior Class Song: “Stout, Stout” by Beers for Fears. Y’all remember that one, dontcha?

Then we graduated high school and went off to college. Beer joined a fraternity (Iota Rho Alpha, or IPA), which I thought was good for him. He was right popular and did pretty well for a while. But then, for some reason, Beer just up and quit. Then, of all thangs, he got drafted! And he went away for a while…

Rocktown Beer fest fearWhen Beer got back, he wasn’t the same. He wasn’t that same light and bubbly kid anymore; he’d gotten hard and dark and bitter. He wouldn’t talk much about it though — kept his feelins’ bottled up. We lost touch after that… but I heard through the grapevine that he joined this gang called the Aleraisers. They rode around all night on their Barley Davidsons and had many a close call with the law. Beer finally left the gang after a particularly bad bar fight one night with Three Brothers. I think that lifestyle scared him a bit, so he tried to settle down with a girl named Ginny. Only, they didn’t mix too well. Even more, he knew somethin’ was wrong when their little black and tan baby came along. I mean, he was a Pilsner. Still, she divorced him anyway cuz he was so hopped up on grass all the time.

I think Beer hit rock bottom when he was arrested for stealing a 40oz at the local 7-Eleven. I saw his mug shot on the news… Beer looked really pale. The last call I got from Beer was not long ago, invitin’ me to some Beer and Music Festival. And so I met him there, and we rekindled our friendship. I hope I never lose him again.

This year’s Rocktown Beer and Music Festival was PERFECT. Getting through the line couldn’t have been easier, the vendors and volunteers couldn’t have been friendlier, and the day couldn’t have been gorgeouser.

Rocktown Beer fest officers Rocktown Beer fest line Rocktown Beer fest vols2Rocktown Beer fest volsOnce Brandy, Michael, and I had our bracelets on and mugs in hand, we plopped our gear down on the grass and high-tailed it into the Turner Pavilion, where 31 breweries awaited our patronage. Soooo many choices, it was hard to know where to start; but with five and a half hours to spend and ten naked notches on our wrists, we felt no pressure at all. Early on we sampled the Parkway Get Bent Mountain IPA,  Left Hand‘s The Stranger, and Public by DC Brau. We also tried the St. George IPA (the volunteer at that station, Sir James, dubbed me a cool person and gave me a bottle opener), Epic‘s Brainless Belgium, Foothills Hoppyum IPA and the Peak Organic Simcoe Spring. Then I sorta lost track, partly because it was hard to hold the beer and take notes, and partly because I spilled salsa on my notebook and can’t make out anything else on this page. But there were some beers with clever names — like Hell or High Watermelon from 21st Amendment, Lagunitas’ Undercover Investigation Shut-Down, Mama’s Little Yella Pils by Oskar Blues, and the Terrapin Wake ‘N’ Bake. And of course Harrisonburg’s own Three Brothers Brewing Co. was there with their Admiral and Elementary Porter, both exceptionally tasty. They seemed to get busier as the festival wore on, and at one point their line got INSANE and after finally getting my sample, I had to carefully navigate through the throngs of people with my teeny beer. I felt like I was carrying a fragile baby bird to safety.

Rocktown Beer fest mug2It wasn’t long before I was HONGRY. What choices! Rick’s Cantina brought Hard Shell Gringo Tacos and steamed pork or veggie tamales. Local Chop and Grill House offered a tender local BBQ pork sandwich. Chanello’s Pizza was also there, because duh — pizza and beer, people. And Jack Brown’s rounded out the menu with Kobe Beef burgers, fries, and those freaking addicting fried Oreos. While in line at the Rick’s tent, I put my beer down… and walked away. When I got back to my seat, I realized my horrifying mistake. I ran back, yelling, “Emergency! I put my beer down!” They smiled and said, “We knew you’d be back,” and handed me my mug. Ahhh, the Friendly City saves the day, again!

Rocktown Beer fest food1 Rocktown Beer fest food2Rocktown Beer fest salsaLet’s not forget the other “half” of the Beer and Music Festival — the music. The Judy Chops were up first, a perfect sunny – day band. And people were dancin’! You can catch the Judy Chops at Harrisonburg’s Fridays On the Square on July 19.

Rocktown Beer fest JCNext up was The Steel Wheels. We simply can’t say enough about this band. They’re great indoors and out, live and on CD, whatever mood you’re in. We’ve seen them lots of times, forged forever memories, and can’t wait to see them again. They’ll be at the Red Wing Roots Music Festival in July.

Rocktown Beer Fest SW Rocktown Beer fest SW2Last up was Love Canon, out of Charlottesville. This band was a great closer for re-energizing the crowd and refreshing some old tunes that everyone could sing along to. And sing we did!

Rocktown Beer fest danceRocktown Beer fest Love CanonThank you, festival organizers, volunteers, supporters, and attendees. You outdid yourselves, for the third time. Now, everyone, please check back with us every day this week for several more eye-candy slideshows. You might see yourself or someone you know! And now that you’re all feeling warm and buzzy, I mean fuzzy, don’t forget to hug your bud!

Rocktown Beer fest high5Rocktown Beer fest BK*these photos ^ by Rachel Herr

Copyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

winter solst… soulspice: rick’s cantina.

ricks cantina signTo write this post, I’ve had to get my thinkin’ cap on, because this outing occurred before Christmas, during the haze of the holidays. I remember it was a chilly day, and I remember Michael and I were shopping warriors–this one day being our last chance away from the kids to get gifts for all five of them. The expansive list included items such as LEGOs, books, fuzzy socks, Angry Birds, ninja swords, roller skates, handcuffs, and a yoyo. We had a lot of stops to make. Man, I was getting grouchy. Finally, we took a much-needed hiatus when Brandy invited us to meet her and Danielle at Rick’s Cantina. Hello, refreshment!

ricks cantinaAlthough we arrived limp and hungry, we quickly transformed into lively revelers. Why? Because you can’t maintain a bad mood while eating Mexican food. You just can’t. Salad? Yes. Tuna casserole? Sure. Meatloaf? DE-PRESS-ING. An entire container of Breyers Rocky Road? Oh, yes–I’ve done that lots of times. But Mexican food? No. You cannot be sad in its presence. And I haven’t even gotten to margaritas yet.

For one thing, they offer more than 50 different types of tequila and many creative ways to drink it. We ordered one house margarita with a chili rim, one sangria margarita, one strawberry margarita, and a tequila sunset. Danielle said hers tasted “like summertime.” See? Instant mood lifter. Then there was mad exchanging of drinks because we all wanted to try everyone else’s. And a bit later Michael asked, “Hey, where’s my drink?” And I said, “Um, you drank it.” We’ve all been there before.

ricks cantina menumargaritasTo eat, we ordered roasted chicken tacos, chicken quesadillas, chicken tortilla soup, salmon and avocado ceviche, chips and salsa, cheese quesadillas, and crispy yucca fries. Michael’s chicken quesadillas were the best he’d ever had: “Look–you can actually pick it up and eat it.” Brandy loved her tacos so much she wanted us to experience her eating them:

“Lemme cleanse my palate. Okay, currently it’s warm and gooey to my finger.”

She takes a bite, and from here on out speaks with a very full mouth:
“Okay. The shell is soft and warm. Then you get inside..” <giggles> “…and it breaks off in your mouth…. a nice lil’ tornado of chicken and rice and tortilla… and it’s spicy as you exhale.” There you have it, folks. Run to Rick’s right now and order those tacos!!

ricks cantina foodAs usual, the after-dinner conversation trailed off into weirdness, like how kids intentionally eat PlayDoh. I did. It’s good. So what? And that led to how pregnant women sometimes eat dirt… and other such topics that somehow made sense at the time.

More info you should know. The Daily Specials:

Monday 4 – 9pm–Margarita Monday, $3 House Margaritas
Tuesday 4 – 7pm–Dollar Gringo Tacos
Wednesday 4 – 7pm–Tequila flight with Chips and Salsa for $10
Thursday 4 – 7pm–$2 draft beers and half-price Pie Pan Nachos
Sunday Funday 11 – 3pm–$3 Maria Verde, $2 Sammie’s Sangria, and $2 Bromosa; 3 – 7pm–$5 Burrito and $3 Mechelada

That’s A LOT of special. It doesn’t matter what day of the week you’re cold or grouchy–Rick’s will gladly take care of you! Rick’s Cantina is located at 14 East Water Street downtown. They’re open 11 – 11 every day.

katie michael danielleCopyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.