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Parks and Rec learns lessons at Mac and Brews Festival

By Staff | Oct 11, 2019

Recording artist Bucky Covington entertains at the Mac and Brews Festival Saturday at The Amp at Sam Michael's Park. Toni Milbourne

HARPERS FERRY – The Amp at Sam Michael’s Park was the location for the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation’s first fall festival, the Mac and Brews Festival, on Saturday. Drawing over 500 attendees, the event got off to a great start with crisp fall weather and a schedule of exceptional music throughout the afternoon.

Alyssa and Cory Ferguson, of Pennsylvania, said they drove down from near Pittsburgh to enjoy the festival.

“It’s our first anniversary. We saw the event online and decided to come,” Alyssa said, mentioning they also visited Harpers Ferry and Shepherdstown over the weekend. According to Jennifer Myers, director of the county’s park system, hosting the festival was a learning experience.

“We had some hurdles to overcome,” Myers said.

Several groups participated in the Mac and Cheese Contest, which was part of the billing for the event. Attendees were able to get tastings and then to cast a vote for their favorite. The segment of time set aside for the contest saw the heaviest attendance for the day.

Cory and Alysa Ferguson, of Pittsburgh, spent the day celebrating their first wedding anniversary at the Mac and Brews Festival on Saturday. Toni Milbourne

“We ran out of mac and cheese early. In addition, some of our food vendors ran out of food as well,” Myers said. “For them it was a good problem to have.”

To compensate for the lack of food for purchase, the staff purchased and distributed pizza at no cost to attendees.

“The coordinator of the event felt terrible about the food vendors selling out of food early (good for them) and got pizza delivered, free of charge, t’was delicious!” Jessica Wilt posted on social media. “To the person whom decided to put this event on, thank you. I’m sure you learned a lot and will be better prepared next year!”

Despite setbacks with food, the entertainment portion of the festival didn’t disappoint, with several bands (Copper Canyon, The Hillbilly Gypsies, The Woodshedders and the Gypsy Ramblers) leading up to the main entertainer, Nashville recording artist Bucky Covington.

At the same time, several vendors were selling from their booths, while beer was available on tap, courtesy of Abolitionist Ale Works. Children’s activities included moon bounces and face painting.

As time drew close for Covington to take the stage, the former American Idol contestant hosted a meet and greet for attendees who had won backstage passes.

Covington has played shows in West Virginia on multiple occasions; but, has never visited the Eastern Panhandle. He had high praise for the state and for The Amp in particular.

“You all have a fabulous venue here,” Covington told the crowd. “If you ever want me to come back, I’m here.”

While the event may have had its growing pains, Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Commission Vice President Ann Mountz said it will help the park improve its future events.

“The festival was a beautiful way to show off Jefferson County, the park and The Amp,” Mountz said.