Devils Backbone Hoopla Festival Has it All

Karin McLaughlin
By Karin McLaughlin / September 21, 2018
Devils Backbone Hoopla Festival (Photo Credit: Chris Chern)

​Basecamp and biking and breweries, oh my!  When I say that Devils Backbone knows how to have fun, I mean they know how to have fun and starting ​Friday, September 28th, they are going to show us all how it's done!  Hoopla truly is the festival that has it all and if it's outdoor activities, adventure and a great time you seek, you will find it right outside Charlottesville in Nelson County, Virginia at the Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub and Meadows.  ​Three days of music, beer, ​nature and camping make for a simply great way to spend a September weekend not far from ​beautiful Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive.   Now in its third year, organizers have really stepped it up and​ thrown in enough appeal to lure just about anyone down Route 151.  Like Americana-Roots-Blugrass music?  They have that.  Want to enjoy not only great beer onsite, but also venture out to find what else Virginia has to offer?  They'll ​guide you.  ​Care for some great hiking or biking with a beautiful back drop?  A group leaves in the morning.   Feel like having an adult weekend but you're responsible for little ones?  No problem - there's face painting and flower crown making to go along with the entirely kid friendly atmosphere​ out at Basecamp and they want you to bring the whole fam!

Devils Backbone Hoopla
Devils Backbone Hoopla

​"We are a beer festival.  We are a music festival.  But the adventures and how much time we put into those, are what differentiates Hoopla from a lot of​ other festivals," notes Justin Billcheck, owner of the production company that puts the festival on.  Wanting attendees to be able to really ​enjoy and experience Nelson County as a whole is what one of the major goals of having this event is.  They want to give folks a chance, with the organized trips during the festival, to have a bit of a stepped up ​exposure, as guests of Devils Backbone, to the surrounding businesses and include an all encompassing experience of the location so that there are even more reasons to return to the area.   "We're fine with taking people to another brewery to try their beers or doing a mountain bike ride to Bold Rock (Cidery) because then when they're received, they're received in a slightly different way ​as part of this, so the experience is even more elevated and it's not just a brewery tour," states Justin.

Devils Backbone Hoopla
Devils Backbone Hoopla

​Many might not know this, but ​there is a seven core value system that ​the brewing company, as a whole, tries to be conscious of at all times, especially when planning an event such as this: Family, Adventure, Beer Positive, Stewardship, Humility, Integrity and Passion.  ​​"We're a really family friendly festival. We have an entire kids area, all kinds of awesome activities for them and it's great for them to be able to run around and then the parents get to have a good time too, have a beer or two, do some dancing," notes Adrienne Brown, a member of the team at Devils Backbone.   Better yet, while they boast the fact that kid friendly activities are easy to find, you might take note that they also want adults to be able to get a little fun in as well and are offering, get ready for it, HUMAN FOOSBALL!  

Looking at the schedule, it's pretty obvious that adventure is high on that list of priorities as well.  While most festivals offer an early morning yoga session, possibly to ease the hurt of the night before, Hoopla makes getting up and getting moving one of the main reasons to attend.  In addition to a little downward dog, they offer mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking and plenty of exploring of the beauty mother nature has to offer in their neck of the woods.   Not only do they like to offer a wide variety of options for attendees to participate in, but they also take the time to set a schedule that makes it easy to be a part of a number of the adventures and not have to make decisions that rules out something they might really want to do.  

Devils Backbone Hoopla

Photo Credit: Christopher Chern

Devils Backbone Hoopla (Photo Credit: Christopher Chern)

Photo Credit: Christopher Chern

Stewardship is another aspect that they take very seriously at Devils Backbone, working​ year-round in partnership with philanthropic organizations ​such as - The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and ​Appalachian Trail Conservancy​.   The REI Co-op folks will be on hand at Hoopla as well to give you a crash course in camping, not to mention, "Our onsite agro-tourism manager is going to be doing tours of​ our hoop houses, so folks can see what we're growing and​ learn a little bit more about the ecology and what they can do to, essentially, go home after the festival and have a little more of that 'leave it better than you found it' attitude.  We love to be able to bring those folks in to tell their story along with ours," ​Adrienne shares.​

If there's somehow a way that you aren't already clicking on the link to buy tickets to Hoopla, we haven't even talked about the music yet!  ​Billcheck curated a lineup of musicians that also goes along with the overall feel of Hoopla, including folks like Tyler Childers returning for his second year and Love Cannon, an 80's cover, bluegrass, Charlottesville-based band who ​guarantees to really get folks moving.   Fun-loving quintet Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is sure to set a fun loving vibe in place as they play Friday ​just in time to get the party going and waking up to The Gold Top County Ramblers Saturday morning, a band out of nearby Sperryville, will ensure everyone rises with a smile on their face ready for more music and adventure.  Another great act, Baltimore-based Cris Jacobs Band has become a staple and a crowd pleaser at so many close-to-D.C  festivals and shows and is sure to have a draw all his own.   Hoopla really works, as well, to bring in some local bands to show the folks who travel to basecamp from a bit further out that Nelson County has it all.  

Devils Backbone Hoopla

New in 2018, basecamp now also includes their very own distillery onsite in addition to a shop where you can ​purchase all kinds of goodies to take home and remember the weekend or extend as a consolation and incentive for others who couldn't or didn't know to join you when you return next year.  Also now included, is a festival goers dream of a completely stepped up campsite area.  Full RV hook-ups as well as primitive sites are both available, ​designated campfire rings and a newly completed bath house with indoor toilets and showers available make the chances of you feeling desperate for any sort of ​cool off, or clean up during your Hoopla experience highly unlikely.  Even more, the team at Devils Backbone has an option that no festival I've ever attended has offered - a place where you can sit down and order a proper meal.  

​The story and mission of Hoopla is clear, but I think Adrienne summed it up best when she said, "We're more than just a place that makes beer.  We love what we do, but we also love where we are.  We love people and we love creating experiences that are unique, so that instead of just ​saying 'I did this thing, it was really cool' or 'I tasted this thing it was really great' - they're also able to go back and have their own story that they've created and lived at Hoopla."

Devils Backbone Hoopla

Photo Credit: Christopher Chern

​Devils Backbone Hoopla

Performance Details



​September 28 -

September 30, 2018

​Basecamp Brewpub and Meadows

Event Website

​200 Mosbys Run

​Roseland, VA 22967

(Google Maps Link)

Tickets Prices Vary:

  • Multi-Day Music Passes Available
  • Tent Only Multi-Day Passes Available
  • Car Camping Multi-Day Passes Availalbe.

Please check website for options

Photo Credits:  Cover Image taken by Christopher Chern

About the author
Karin McLaughlin

Karin McLaughlin

Karin has been a live music junkie all her life, however is a fairly new fan in the world of jam bands and bluegrass. She grew up on hip hop, classic soul, motown and classic rock but has found a new home in the festival world and that is what, in part, had brought her to DC Music Review. Karin produces and hosts a weekly radio show in the area called Karin's Calendar, where she talks all about 'Where to be in the DMV'. She is very excited to be starting down a semi-new road with us and hopes to use her interview skills and write ups of shows to contribute even more to DC Music Review.

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