Considering the good crowds that Dirt Road Brewing typically brings in from week to week and the business owner’s plans for expansion, the 10-hour street party planned for Saturday will likely be a hit among locals and visitors alike.
Back for the third straight summer, the Dirt Road Street Party will run from 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. July 1 on 13th Street just north of Main. Admission is free.
Owner Chuck Cox has in the past referred to the event as a thank you to Philomath for supporting his business here in the small community of under 6,000 people. Going back to when the business opened in 2019, he wasn’t especially looking to locate here.
Cox recalled that there were no good locations available for his brewpub in Corvallis.
“I just happened to find this place out of pure frustration — walking into City Hall one day and asked (City Manager) Chris Workman if he knew of any places where someone might be looking to lease or sell — a brick-and-mortar place,” Cox recalled. “He said, ‘yeah, go talk to Charlie up there … I think he’s ready to sell.’”
Workman was referring to Charlie Gilson, who owns Pheasant Court Winery with his wife, Marcia, and had been operating a tasting room at the location on the corner of Main and 13th. A historic building that was once a bank and still has a vault inside, it would indeed become a brewpub.
Said Cox, “Thirty days later, we closed and here we are.”
Not long after opening, COVID-19 raged out of control to limit revenue potential. But Cox survived through the loyal following he had already built and was one of the earliest public celebrations coming out of the pandemic when he staged the inaugural street party in 2021.
The concert lineup Saturday opens with Cool Jones (noon-1:30 p.m.) and continues in the afternoon with Animals With Their Clothes On (2-3:30 p.m.) and Space Neighbors (4-6 p.m.). In the evening, Scruggs and the Steelbenders will play 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Cox decided to go with fewer bands than last year when there were eight on the schedule.
“Too many band changes,” he said when asked why he cut back in that area. “I mean, I’d rather have them take an intermission and be back in 10 minutes.”
Cox also wanted to focus on bands with the type of music that will get folks out of their chairs and dancing.
Dirt Road’s pizza ovens will be operating but there will also be other food choices. El Cruzero, who offers Yucatan-style food, will be back this year. Nick’s: Soul Food will bring its food truck to the party. And Cox said Sissi’s will have food available as well.
As for the cold beer, there will be plenty with Dirt Road’s lineup, which always includes new releases this time of year. Cider, wine and nonalcoholic beverages will also be available. Water stations and a snow cone machine will be on site as well — welcomed additions considering the weather forecast shows temps possibly reaching the mid-80s or higher.
The children’s activities include a bouncy house (S&K Inflatables), art-related activities (Maxtivity) and a Philomath Fire & Rescue truck.
As for the business end of things, Cox hopes to see an increase in foot traffic in the coming years after the Philomath streetscapes project wraps up. The downtown area needs more businesses, he said, to reach its full potential and he’s investing in what he believes will be a success story.
“We just purchased the place next door (former Windsmith Music location) and I’m over there doing improvements on it right now,” Cox said, “and we bought the lot behind this so I’ve got a new building going up back there — that’s where the brewery is going to go.”
Cox plans on the expansion project’s completion happening this year.
“We’ll be able to seat 200 to 300 people in there when it’s said and done inside and out,” he said, mentioning the current capacity runs around 50 inside and 50 outside. “Right now, I’m turning people away, you know, on Friday and Saturday, it’s hard to get in.”
A larger, commercial-size kitchen is part of the plan.
“We’ll expand the menu and hopefully they will come,” Cox said. “Definitely, I’m keeping it a brewery. I’m not in the restaurant business, so it’s going to still remain Dirt Road Brewing.”