Lake Norman & Mooresville

Rural Hill hosts brew and music fest

Rural Hill heritage site Executive Director Jeff Fissel said the Charlotte region is not recognized as a destination for many outdoor festivals, let alone one dedicated to the growing network of N.C. breweries.

That is about to change.

Coupled with continuous live entertainment May 14, Fissel said, 11 local breweries will be featured at the inaugural N.C. Brewers and Music Festival at the historic Huntersville homestead. The event, headlined by local band Chatham County Line, will run 10-8 p.m.

"We want to highlight and celebrate brewers from North Carolina," Fissel said. "They are creating a culture, a craft-brewing culture. There is a movement away from national beers, and we are celebrating local and regional brews."

Eager to add to its festival lineup in support of its anchor event, the Loch Norman Highland Games, Rural Hill officials are counting on local beer lovers to answer the call.

The festival is the first to exclusively celebrate North Carolina's great craft breweries, said Fissel, adding that designated-driver and under-21 tickets are available.

"We are looking for a couple of new events to show new people of the history we have here," he said.

Rural Hill Inc. is the nonprofit organization that maintains and promotes the historic Rural Hill site, its programs and activities.

On land leased from Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Rural Hill encompasses 265 acres of rural vistas, a variety of farm animals and walking trails. Eleven historic buildings and reconstructions provide a setting for cultural heritage events such as the Loch Norman Highland Games.

Fissel said he started organizing the beer event in January and is optimistic for similar events in the future.

The festival also will bring in other musicians with Carolina ties, including Eric Lindell, Charlotte's New Familiars, Moonshine Racers, Sol Driver Train, The Mantras and Do it to Julia.

Chatham County Line bassist Greg Reading, a Huntersville resident, won't have far to drive to work the morning of May 14.

"I think it will be a fun event to attend," Fissel said. "I think we have a great outdoor venue, and it will be a chance to come out, hear great music ... sipping on great brews. There certainly will be plenty of opportunities to taste new beers."