Countdowns are helpful ways to manage the anxiety and stress and discomfort that come with waiting for something that you look forward to so much you quiver with anticipation and can literally taste it. As a young boy I loved school — yes, odd isn’t it? — but I loved summer even more more. Long, unfilled, unscheduled days of bike riding, fishing, marbles, trading baseball cards, sandlot baseball, catching lightening bugs, reading comic books, laying in the grass and staring at either the sun or the moon or the passing clouds or nothing at all. Summer. The word itself has a magic all its own.


Not too long after the first pitch of the Major League Baseball season was thrown out I would take down the family calendar from the kitchen wall and count the days until the last day of school. I would then write that number in the day’s square and from there write all the numbers in the succeeding squares all the way down to day zero, the very last day of school and the day before summer really began. I became that kid who could tell you how many days of school were left until summer vacation. Anyone could ask. I would always have the number right there on the tip of my tongue. 42. 27. 15. 9.


My guess is that we all countdown to all sorts of things. Christmas. Retailers, of course, do that for us. The countdown is in shopping days. Birthdays, perhaps. Especially the landmark birthdays. 16. 21. 30. 40. We usually stop about there. Then, there’s New Year’s. The shouts of 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and happy New Year.


Well, it’s time to countdown to the Hop Blossom Craft Beer Festival. It’s less than two weeks away. That’s really close. If you haven’t gotten your tickets, do it today. You’ll be glad you did.


It’s our fifth annual festival. The festival started out strong and keeps getting better. Our crackerjack festival team has been hard at work to bring to Winchester for the fifth year in a row some of the finest craft beer and hard ciders not only from the state and region but also from across the land. I’m talking good stuff. Really good stuff. And remember, the festival raises money for Gooddogz and the local chapter of the SPCA. I’ve always thought good beer and dogs go together as well if not better than milk and cookies or mom and apple pie, maybe better. Yeah, better.


Here’s a countdown idea. Take a gander at the many breweries on our website. Select six that appeal most to you or six you know little or nothing about and would like to learn something about. Head out to your local craft beer store and buy a mix and match six-pack with one each from your selected breweries. On day six before the festival, open one of the beers and enjoy it knowing that within a week you will have nearly 40 breweries to sample from. Talk about a holiday! On day five before the festival, open another one of the beers and enjoy it as well. You get the picture. Do the same for day four, three, two, and one. After that, it’s Hop Blossom Festival Day. Then, there’s the day after — 364 days until Hop Blossom 2018.



 -Dan McCoig

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