Savoring Springtime in Hope Mills

March 22, 2018

Just one of several thriving communities in Cumberland County is the Town of Hope Mills. As this municipality has grown over the years, it’s somehow managed to keep that American small-town charm I love so much. Some exciting new attractions are popping up in that area this year, and I'm discovering more and more events to put on the calendar (not to mention good eats). We’re talking an Easter celebration in the park, a new farmer’s market and festival at a brewery, and a southern buffet to beat all. Come join the locals in savoring springtime in Hope Mills!

Hope Mills Municipal Park

At the heart of any thriving small town is a community park where all the big celebrations take place. Hope Mills celebrates all the major holidays and more at the Municipal Park, and you’ll find the locals flocking here for the annual July 4th Celebration, Ole Mill Days Festival, etc.

The big springtime happening here is Easter in Hope Mills, when three different events make for a full morning of family fun. On March 24th, start the day with a tasty Breakfast with the Bunny inside the Hope Mills Recreation Center. Then let the kids loose in the park for the Easter Egg Hunt. Stick around after the hunt for the kids to participate in making Easter Crafts.

You don’t have to visit Hope Mills on a holiday, though, to enjoy this sprawling park. Dog owners and families, especially, enjoy all the tree-lined walking trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, ball fields and basketball courts. During the warmer months, this park also plays host to a monthly food truck event. Look for the next Food Truck Rodeo to happen on May 3rd—the perfect time to get outdoors, try some of our locals’ favorite food trucks and enjoy live music.

Tip: Yet another lovely outdoor space worth the visit is Hope Mills Lake (featured in bottom picture). Stop by this picturesque spot, in the heart of Hope Mills, to let the kids loose on the playground, watch the geese, and take advantage of the sweet photo-ops.

Dirtbag Ales Brewery & Taproom

Cumberland County is quickly becoming a craft brewery destination for out-of-town visitors. Our locals (to include myself) have fallen in love with our Hope Mills’ brewery, Dirtbag Ales (DBA), and not just for their excellent beer. DBA believes in offering their visitors an entire experience. You’ll find everything from art exhibits to yoga classes, live music to food trucks there on any given day. Even more exciting is the fact DBA is almost finished building another, larger facility that sits on six acres of land in Hope Mills.

For this new location, they have several incredible plans up their sleeves—to include sports fields, an outdoor music stage, a beer garden, a dog park and a kid’s playground. However, what I’m most excited about is DBA’s collaboration with Sustainable Sandhills in launching the Dirtbag Ales Farmers Market—open every Sunday of the season (April 15th – October 28th), except for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day (May 13th and June 17th).

To kick off the market, DBA is hosting a Strawberry Festival on April 15th and 22nd. The Sandhills region of North Carolina is known for their luscious strawberries, and DBA and Sustainable Sandhills will be celebrating the bounty of strawberry season at this fest. They have invited a variety of local vendors, artisans, bakers and farmers to set up shop onsite. Here you may shop for the sweetest spring produce and fresh baked goods, pick out handcrafted items and seasonally inspired bouquets, and much more. On top of all that, food trucks will be keeping the crowds fed well, and DBA will be debuting their Sandhills American Blonde—a beer made with strawberries, of course, locally sourced from Sandhills farmers.

Tip: One more Hope Mills festival to put on your calendar this spring is the All American Wine & Music Festival. Taking place at Paradise Acres on April 14th, this fest presents the perfect excuse for you to sip on wine and listen to live music as you enjoy everything this family-friendly venue offers.

Fred Chason’s Grandsons Restaurant

When I first moved to this area, 15 years ago, a friend drove my family out to Fred Chason’s Restaurant in Lumber Bridge. This restaurant had been serving folks since 1980 and had earned the reputation of offering one of the best southern-style buffets in the region. Today, Mr. Chason’s grandsons have kept their grandfather’s legacy alive with two restaurants in Cumberland County. Their Hope Mills’ location happens to be just a hop, skip and a jump from Dirtbag Ales’ new brewery, and is conveniently situated right off I-95’s exit 41.

Recently, a coworker and I ate lunch at Grandsons, and I found the food to be just as tasty and satisfying as I remembered it being all those years ago. From their large buffet, you’ll have a difficult time choosing between all the southern favorites and regional specialties—from traditional pork barbecue to savory greens to tempting pies. On my visit, I filled my plate with fried chicken, macaroni ‘n cheese, collards, stewed tomatoes and mashed potatoes.

I have to say, the fried chicken was the star of my lunch—perfectly seasoned and crispy. I could just as easily have gone for the chicken ‘n pastry or seafood, though. My coworker’s favorite dish happened to be his piece of a chocolatey peanut-butter pie. The tasty, comfort food choices here are endless, and explain why generations of folks keep returning to Grandsons for more.

Tip: Another family-owned-and-operated treasure here is Country Fish Fry, serving the locals seafood goodness for 17 years. If you’ve never experienced a backyard family fish fry, then I need for you to stop by the Hope Mills’ location and order up a plate of their fish fillets, with a pile of hush-puppies and scoop of slaw on the side. You’ll thank me later.

Interested in discovering more things to do and places to eat in charming Hope Mills? Last summer I dished on several other local treasures in Summertime Livin’ in Hope Mills. We’re looking forward to so many other festivals, brewery happenings and more coming up this season in Hope Mills and all over Cumberland County. To help plan your sweet spring days here, be sure to check out the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Calendar of Events.

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