Poperinge Hop Parade: Now THIS is what I’m talking about.


Thanks, Jeff Gillenwater.

The video depicts highlights of the hops parade in Poperinge, Belgium in 2014. The hops festival there takes place every third year, meaning it’s due again in 2020. You’ll notice no sirens, police cars, municipal suck trucks, monster rigs, militia jeeps or deafening fire trucks; instead, there are actual humans, many of them walking, some on horseback or in wagons.

Taken as a whole, Poperinge’s hop festival is a recurring delight. This small provincial town possesses a self-image second to none, and the three-day event reflects a much appreciated commitment to local values.

Hop-related events and related revelry take place throughout the festival weekend, but the highlight is the Sunday parade through the tidy streets. The parade actually tells a story, with an accompanying libretto of sorts printed in several languages, periodic chapter markers, and a refreshing absence of commercial considerations.

The story concerns the history of brewing, the history of the hop, and its importance to the Poperinge economy. Onlookers meet the enemies of the hop — for instance, brightly festooned children as beetles — and the plant’s friends, other whistling children dressed as birds.

It is delightful. Here are a few links from past parades. Since 1999, I’ve missed only one of them (2011), and plan are underway for next year.

The 2017 Poperinge Hop Parade, Part One: One must pour the proper foundation for maximum parade enjoyment.

The 2017 Poperinge Hop Parade, Part Two: The procession itself, and where to dine afterward.

2014 Euro Reunion Tour, Day 12.5: The story of hops in parade format.

PRESS RELEASE: “Let’s go to the hops.”

Hops are a boy’s best friend.