Anatomy of a Beer Festival Part 1

The End is the Beginning is the End?


Thinking back to Sunday 15th September 2013 (the final day of our 2013 festival) the main thing I remember is the look of dejection on the faces of our staff (all unpaid volunteers).  Just over 9 months of hard work had culminated in a disappointing festival with numbers at around two thirds what we had budgeted for and we’d only sold about 50% of the total beer order.  Even the punters that had come to the festival had drunk less per head than expected.


We knew it wasn’t good and we were all worried what the final result would be financially.  We knew we had made a loss, we just didn’t know how great a loss it would be.  This was particularly disappointing following 3 successful festivals at our previous venue at Midland Railway, Butterley.


In the meantime there was the lunchtime drink up session to get through and then takedown for another 3-4 hours where the casks would be dipped and beer quantities sold logged, the cooling system removed, stillage would be dismantled and the remaining furniture folded up and returned to storage.


The Sunday is usually a cheerful time when staff finally get the chance to enjoy a few beers together and reflect on the previous few days.  I always found it a little bittersweet as it meant things were over for another year.  That was not the case today though and there were concerns that this may be the end of our festival as we know it.  We feared that the previous 3 years profits may be wiped out and that CAMRA HQ may not entertain the idea of allowing us to hold another festival.


Our hopes and dreams had been shattered – flushed down the drain like the leftover beer.  To make matters worse our Regional Director was on hand to witness it and also pass on quite a lot of negative feedback he had already received.


The explaining and defending I had done on Facebook regarding the beer selection were only part of it, other aspects had not been received well either.  I wondered if we would ever recover from this…….

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