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Country music superstar Toby Keith kicks off the Southern Oregon BrewFest. Photo courtesy of The Expo

Toby Keith, craft brews and barbecue at Southern Oregon BrewFest

Country music superstar Toby Keith makes a stop on his “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” tour to kick off the Southern Oregon BrewFest with a concert at the Bi-Mart Amphitheater.

The BrewFest opens Friday and runs through Sunday, Sept. 14-16, and includes a craft-beer brew garden, a barbecue competition, lots of live music, fun and games.

Hours are from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday in the Seven Feathers Event Center at The Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point.

Keith will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday with a song list that features 15 of his No. 1 singles, including the chart-topping hits “Red Solo Cup” and “Beer for My Horses,” along with his break-out “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” and songs from his newest album, “The Bus Songs.”

Singer and songwriter Keith also is known for his USO tours and humanitarian efforts. In 2017, the Toby Keith and Friends Golf Classic raised $1.6 million to aid sick children and their families in his home state of Oklahoma.

Ned LeDoux, son of country western hit-maker Chris LeDoux, will open the show. LeDoux is making a career out of covering his dad’s song catalog. He’s also put finishing touches on many of his father’s songs never released before his death. His hits include “Brother Highway” — a song about life on the road — and “You Can’t Tell Me We Ain’t Got It All” — a tribute to the late LeDoux.

Concert tickets are $150 for standing room only; $110 or $85 for reserved seating, $55 for lawn seating, and can be purchased in advance at attheexpo.com.

The BrewFest’s main attractions are the 60 plus craftbrews on tap inside the Seven Feathers Event Center and the ever-popular Central Point Battle of the Bones barbecue competition to be held outside on the lawn.

Oregonians love Oregon beer and drink more of it than any other beer. Oregon breweries produce 65 percent of the draft beer consumed in the state, according to oregoncraftbeer.org.

In the BrewFest beer garden, taps will flow with award-winning microbrews from throughout Oregon and northern California, making it the largest in the region, says Rob Holmbeck, The Expo’s community development director.

“There is such a variety of beers offered .... so many different beers that maybe someone’s never tried before,” Holmbeck says.

With the Pacific Northwest growing more apples than anywhere else in the country, many breweries in the region also produce hard cider.

“Ciders are really popular as are citrus-flavored beers,” Holmbeck says.

Southern Oregon’s 24 breweries are gaining attention with noteworthy creamy and pale ales and stout craft beers, especially in the Rogue Valley.

Climate City and Wild River of Grants Pass, Caldera of Ashland, and Gold Rush Cider and Walkabout of Medford are just a few of the local breweries drawing pints at the festival. Cascade Lakes, Cascadia Cider, Crux Fermentation Project, Deschutes, Gilgamesh, Good Life, Hop Valley, Klamath Basin, Lagunitas, Mad River, Wild Ride and Worthy breweries will represent the Willamette Valley, Portland and Central Oregon with their flagship brews.

Tickets are $15 and include a souvenir glass and a flight of six tastes. Additional tickets are $5 for six tastes. Tickets will be sold only to those 21 and older.

On Sunday, as the BrewFest winds down, growlers will be available for purchase from 5 to 6 p.m.

There’s something for wine lovers, too. Local wineries Caprice, Cliff Creek, Crater Lake Cellars, Del Rio and Roxy Ann will be on site throughout the weekend pouring a variety of vintages.

In addition to quaffing a few refreshing brews, visitors can bring their appetites for finger-lickin’ good barbecue and fresh-from-the-garden chili served up by 15 teams going grill-to-grill in the Battle of the Bones.

Each day, the challenge is different. Tri-tip will be in the running from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday; ribs, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday; and chili, noon to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $20 each for Friday’s or Sunday’s fare, and $25 for Saturday’s smoky rack of ribs. Tickets are available at battleofthebones.com.

Free concerts by regional bands also highlight the festivities at the BrewFest.

Doves & Vultures — vocalist Daniel Myre, guitarist Jason Curtright, bassist John Leisy and drummer Jonathan Lewis — will perform rock music at 5 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, singer Danielle Kelly and her Soul Project will perform at 1 p.m., Not Too Shabby will play pop, blues and R&B at 4 p.m., and rock and country trio Perry Road perform at 7 p.m. The Frankie Hernandez Band will play soul-infused funk and rock at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Last but not least, the festival’s famous pie-eating contest will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17 and 18, in front of the Seven Feathers Event Center. This hilarious event is open for kids and adults. Entry is free, but limited to the number of pie’s on hand each day. Find Annie the Clown and sign up for a shot to be crowned the Pie Eating Champion. Kids must eat half a pie, and adults have to eat an entire pie. Pies are provided by Rooster’s Restaurant.

Festival details, schedules and tickets are available at attheexpo.com.

Tammy Asnicar is a freelance writer living in Grants Pass. Reach her at tammyasnicar@q.com.

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