Hop Festival plans a hot time

INDEPENDENCE -- Independence will say goodbye to summer and hello to autumn in style by adding fireworks and other new events to its annual Hop & Heritage Festival.

INDEPENDENCE -- Independence will say goodbye to summer and hello to autumn in style by adding fireworks and other new events to its annual Hop & Heritage Festival.

The three-day festival is a celebration of the community's agricultural heritage and one-time status as the hop capital of the West. This year's celebration will run Friday through Sunday, Sept. 22-24.

The festival will get under way at 5 p.m. Sept. 22 with a giant barbecue in Riverview Park, catered by Andy's Restaurant. Baby back ribs or sausage dinners are on the menu, and a beer and wine garden will be open for the evening.

At 7 p.m. the annual Ghost Walk will begin. Guides will take the curious on a tour of the many buildings in downtown Independence that are reputed to be haunted. The event has become so popular over time that this year festival organizers are putting out a call for more guides (see inset).

Saturday, Sept. 23, which happens to be the first day of fall, is the festival's big day. Events will begin at the airport with a hot air balloon launch at 7 a.m. and a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. At 10 a.m. things will shift to Stryker Road and Highway 51, where new road work marking the north entrtance to the city will be dedicated and a parade will proceed to city center.

Live entertainment by eight separate bands will play throughout the day and evening in the amphitheater. Other Saturday activities include a heritage aircraft flyover, the annual Chili Cookoff and Salmon Run events, lawn games, farmers market, a scarecrow contest, a veterans reception and a steak dinner hosted by the local Elks.

A fireworks show over the river is set to begin at 7:40 p.m.

Sunday will see another community breakfast at the airport, then a tractor pull and car show at the park.

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Ghost Hosts needed

Each year during the Hop & Heritage Festival hundreds of local residents and visitors enjoy the Ghost Walk tour of downtown Independence's haunted buildings. So much so, that organizers need more guides for the event.

At least 20 civic-minded, fun-loving citizens will be needed, said festival committee member Marilyn Morton. She'll run a "ghost host training session" at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29, at the Independence Public Library's meeting room. The session will begin with a potluck dinner, so ghostly volunteers should bring a food dish.

The Ghost Walk begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 22. For more information: Marilyn Morton at 503-838-4051.

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