Dirt Road Brewing exterior
Dirt Road Brewing will host its inaugural street party from noon-10 p.m. Saturday on North 13th. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Dirt Road Brewing owner Chuck Cox is in the mood for a party. But he’s not thinking about just a few folks pushing tables together inside of his Philomath brewery on a Saturday night. For this party, Cox and his team have lined up live music, libations, food and fun for a 10-hour stretch on a blocked-off North 13th just north of Main Street.

The “Dirt Road Street Party” will run from noon-10 p.m. Saturday for an event that Cox calls a thank you to the community of Philomath.

“It’s to thank the residents for supporting us and other businesses during the pandemic,” Cox said. “It’s my way of saying thank you and we’re going to throw a party and we’ll just see how it goes.”

The idea of a street party has been brewing in the back of Cox’s mind for a while now.

“We wanted to do it last year and we were just in the preliminary planning stages until we got shut down with COVID, so it’s been on the back burner,” Cox said.

Finding a way to thank the community seemed like the perfect opportunity to put the plan in motion. After this first run, he hopes to stage street parties a couple of times a year with each one bigger than the last.

“I’ve just seen how the community has come and supported me,” Cox said. “I’ve had people tell me ‘I can hardly wait until you’re open because I’m tired of buying growlers; I just want to come in and sit down and have a pint.’”

Dirt Road Brewing interior
Dirt Road Brewing employees take an order on Tuesday during regular business hours. This Saturday, the Philomath brewpub will host a street party from noon-10 p.m. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The street party will not have a cover charge, although Cox does hope some folks will offer up donations.

“We decided not to have a cover charge … people can donate and any money we make will help cover the costs and give our bands some money,” he said, adding that the participating bands agreed to perform free.

Cox hopes partygoers will enjoy dancing to the lineup of bands, which includes Fitz+Spurtz, Amos True and the Easy Targets, DRTR, Cool Jones, the Buddy Ali Project, Dan (From the Surf Band) and Molly Meyers.

Meyers, who works at Dirt Road and is a talented musician in her own right, took on the responsibility of bringing in bands.

“I bet we had 30 bands contact us wanting to play — one band wanting to come from Sacramento,” Cox said.

Philomath residents Bonnie and Michael Avery stepped in to help with a lot of the street party arrangements.

“We were talking one day about having a block party and I said, ‘you know, I’ve got a lot of other things going on right now and if you guys could help and take charge of some of the responsibilities, let’s run with it and see what we can do,’” Cox recalled.

A few others also helped with the cause and the street party became a reality. There was a certain level of uncertainty about whether or not it would happen.

“Up until two weeks ago, we could’ve been shut down still,” Cox said, referring to the state’s pandemic-related mandates. “And it was a week ago today (Tuesday) that I got my permit from the OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission). Without that, I couldn’t have done it.”

Dirt Road Brewing signage
Dirt Road Brewing in Philomath (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Cox also had to secure other permits to make it happen.

“This is the first time I’ve put on anything like this, so I’m on the learning curve,” he said. “We’ve got the city permit, the OLCC permits — everything from porta potties to signage from the city … there’s a lot of moving parts behind these things.”

For food, Cox is bringing in food trucks from the Burnheimer Meat Company (barbecued meats) and Pono Bowl (acai bowls, smoothies, avocado toast) along with food from the Dizzy Hen and Dirt Road’s pizza by the slice.

Of course, Dirt Road’s beer will be available for purchase in the brewpub as well as outside on a beer cart that will be set up — one of the taps will feature cider. Compton Family Wines will also be outside serving.

The street party is not only for adults, however, with various kids’ activities planned.

For Cox, the event marks the end of a long year of pandemic restrictions. Dirt Road Brewing opened on the corner of Main and 13th on Aug. 17, 2019, but just seven months later, it became a limited operation because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“We had a good run through the winter and we survived, kept our staff working,” Cox said. “I was so looking forward to the summer to see what this place was capable of doing and then we got shut down.”

Dirt Road did open up for three hours a day to fill growlers with Cox and a friend, Kevin Berklund, putting in time. Cox himself was in the kitchen making hot dogs and chili dogs for a stretch.

This past August, Cox unveiled a new menu that included artisan pizza, a decision that he said was a game-changer with bringing up revenue numbers during those pandemic months. Now, Dirt Road is preparing to expand to try to answer beer capacity issues as the business goes through growing pains.

“I just bought a canning line and we’re in the process of setting that up right now so people will be able to come in here and buy 16-ounce cans to go,” he said.

For now, Cox’s focus is on Saturday’s big event.

“I hope to get people to dance and just have fun,” Cox said. “It’ll be fun, we’re going to have a good time.”

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