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Good times on tap

Fall wouldn't be complete without a big harvest festival, and the annual bash at the Expo on the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Central Point is just the ticket.

This year's festivities include the Southern Oregon BrewFest and Battle of the Bones barbecue contest, along with live music by Rogue Valley musicians.

The celebration kicks off Friday, Sept. 15, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 17, in the 57,000-square-foot Seven Feathers Event Center on the fairgrounds, 1 Peninger Road.

With more than 60 taps and a noteworthy selection of award-winning regional and Pacific Northwest microbrews, the BrewFest will feature Walkabout Brewing Company and Gold Rush Cider of Medford; Caldera of Ashland; Climate City Brewing of Grants Pass; Cascade Lakes, Crux Fermentation Project, Good Life Brewing, River Bend Brewing and Worthy Brewing of Bend; Wild Ride Brewing Co. of Redmond; Bend, Deschutes Brewery of Bend and Portland; Fort George Brewing of Astoria; Gilgamesh Brewing of Salem; Hop Valley of Eugene; Pelican Brewing of Pacific City; and Wild River Brewing with five locations in Oregon. 

Also look for Mad River Brewing of Blue Lake, California, and Mill City Beer Works of Camas, Washington.

That's just the short list of breweries that will be on hand at the BrewFest. Other Medford and Ashland breweries are slated for the event, but a few names were not available at press time.

"Walkabout and Caldera are the two biggest breweries left in the area," says Cameron Litton, general manager and event coordinator at Walkabout. "We're big enough to distribute our beer. Smaller breweries may not have enough product to bring to the event, and they keep their beer in house.

"The BrewFest allows us to show what new things we're doing," he says. "People know our flagship Worker's Pale Ale and our Jabberwocky, but we're able to showcase other products at the event and let everyone know we're still at the forefront of the brewing scene."

Caldera distributes beer from as far away as Japan, Korea, Brazil and 18 U.S. states, say Paul Stout, sales representative.

The brand celebrates its 20th year in 2017. A commemorative beer, Cousin Rick, a triple IPA, has been brewed for the occasion, and 22-ounce bottles sold in holographic boxes can be purchased at Caldera's brew pub, downtown tap house, Harry & David and Shop'n Kart in Ashland, among a few other stores. It will not, unfortunately, be showcased at the BrewFest because it is expensive.

Also look for many product vendors and children's activities at the BrewFest. Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Growler hour is 5 to 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 and include a souvenir glass and six tastes of craft beers. Additional tickets are $5 for six tastes. Tickets will be sold only to ages 21 and older.

Bring your appetite to the event. Seventeen teams will go head-to-head at this year's Battle of the Bones. The contestants will be outdoors on the lawn on the southeast corner of Seven Feathers Event Center. Grab a bib and enjoy smoky pulled pork, tri-tip and hand-made chili.

Tri-tip will be the "repas du jour" from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, pulled pork will be featured from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, and chili will be served from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Battle of the Bones tickets are $18 for Friday or Saturday, $10 for Sunday and can be purchased at battleofthebones.com.

It wouldn't be a celebration without live music. Look for soul singer Bishop Mayfield and his group from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday in the Rogue Saloon inside the event center. Western Express will play country music from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday; the Frankie Hernandez Band will play soul-infused funk and rock from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., and Billy Lund and Whiskey Weekend will perform from 6 to 8 p.m. On Sunday, the Danielle Kelly Soul Project will perform from 2 to 4 p.m.

The movie "Grease" will show at 9 p.m. Friday on the lawn outside the Mace Building.

Craft brews, barbecue, live music and fun are on tap this weekend at the Expo in Central Point. [Photo illustration by Laurie Heuston]