Apollo Pizza to celebrate 40 years with Hops and Vines Festival

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This weekend on Second Street at Apollo's Pizza, there will be several reasons to celebrate.

The first is the epic return of the annual Apollo Hops and Vines Festival, which features live music, food vendors, artists, and a good time, according to Wes Browne, owner of Apollo Pizza.

The annual event has been hosted at the popular pizza joint in downtown Richmond for seven years prior to 2020 when the festival was put on pause because of COVID-19 concerns.

But in their eighth year hosting Hops and Vines, Apollo will simultaneously celebrate their 40th birthday in operation, and the festival's theme is 80s throwback -- when Apollo was initially founded.

This year, Hops and Vines will feature not one but two 80s bands.

"Retribution makes its triumphant return, and Madison County's own Rock of Ages makes its debut. Both will play those 80s favorites," Browne shared.

Browne stated cover band Retribution, of Ohio, was a crowd favorite two years ago when they first played for festival-goers.

"They are really good mimics of the 80s music, and they sound so much like the genuine thing that when they got off the stage two years ago, people were already saying, 'we need to have them back,' and (the band) had a great time and agreed to come back," Browne said.

Retribution is not scheduled to take the stage until around 7 p.m. Saturday, but music is planned for the whole afternoon beginning at 2 p.m. with Nic Cassetta of NightshadE.

Around 4:15 p.m., Rock of Ages will perform. Alongside the live music, the festival will feature seven local breweries, a local sake brewer, a cidery, a winery, food, tie-dye artists, and more.

Some of these include Chenault Vineyards, Dreaming Creek Brewery, Mirror Twin Brewery, Abettor Brewing, House of Cue food truck, MadScoops Ice Cream, and Fusion Brewery.

Additionally, this year's event will feature special tappings of Country Boy Brewing's special release 40th Birthday Beer Apollo Showtime and Hillbilly Hustle Lager, the beer brewed for the book, which Apollo Pizza inspired.

Browne, who authored the novel, will be selling copies of the book and signing copies.

With all the fun, Apollo Hops and Vines is making sure to give back to the community it serves by donating a portion of proceeds to benefit the Madison County Humane Society Animal League for Life. Leashed dogs are welcome and encouraged by organizers.

Browne said, like most of the previous year and into 2021, he and his team were forced to work on the fly with both the Apollo Pizza restaurants and the festival's organization in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions.

Typically, Browne said he would have begun organizing in January, but with uncertainties still looming around the time of the New Year, he held off planning until May.

"We didn't start planning until May because we didn't know what the situation would be," Browne began. "We think we are in good shape, and we have done everything we normally do, but we had to hustle to put it together a lot faster. Working with restaurants this year was doing a lot on the fly, and we had to do the same with hosting this festival."

Despite their rushed plans, Browne and his staff are hoping for a great turnout, one they are trying to gauge.

"We are like, is it going to be quiet because we haven't done anything in a while or is going to be insane because we haven't done anything and everyone is coming back out," Browne guessed.

More than 1,000 people have already expressed their interest in attending the Hops and Vines Festival on the event's Facebook page.

In addition, Browne said he is hearing rumors people are planning to dress up in 80s fashion for the event. However, this is not required -- but encouraged. T-shirts memorializing the event are also on sale now for pre-order. Shirts can be reserved by visiting docs.google.com/.../1FAIpQLSf2GMUC.../viewform...and payment can be made upon pick up, which is available beginning July 22.

Citizens Guaranty Bank is the presenting sponsor of this year's event and is helping to provide tables, chairs, tents, and a giant misting fan for guests' comfort. Attendees can bring their own table, chairs, and blankets.

Hops and Vines will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 24, at 244 South Second Street in Richmond. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit facebook.com/events/324816625814528/?active_tab=about.

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