Anatomy of a Beer Festival Part 3

Part 3: Onwards and Upwards


Having only a short time to decide on a venue before we needed to submit a budget to HQ for approval, we considered our options carefully.  The Rugby Club would have meant an event mainly or entirely in a marquee which would leave us susceptible to the elements yet again.  There were also the problems of flooding as that area does from time to time, the damage we would cause to the pitch and the cost of restoring it and a possible issue with dates if the season had already commenced.


Strutts would be indoors in a building with plenty of character and would allow us room to expand in future years if we ran a successful festival.  Both venues had good locations both just off the A6 with good transport links although Strutts would be considerably more visible for passing trade.  Both had decent car parking facilities too which, despite the very nature of the festival, is quite important.


We opted for Strutts for the reasons mentioned above.  We also decided to no longer have split sessions i.e. those who arrived between 12pm – 5pm would not be asked to leave at the end of the session or pay a top up to the evening entry price.  We had received numerous complaints about this but it stemmed from our time at Midland Railway where we had sold evening tickets to capacity and, with a strict fire limit, had no choice but to only allow those who had paid for tickets entry in the evenings.


We had no reason to follow this policy at Alfreton other than to cover the cost of the (expensive) bands and there was even a falling out between some of us onsite on the Friday afternoon as to what we should do.


You live and learn.  There are so many things to think about and factors to consider that inevitably you never get everything right, especially when you move to a new venue in a new area.


People, and often CAMRA branches, vastly underestimate the effect that moving venue has on a festival.  I know that first hand, although annoyingly a number of people told us afterwards that we should have known that moving venue and area is like starting from scratch.  Unfortunately not one of those people were the festival scrutineers who you might argue were in the best position to offer such advice before the event took place.  Nobody’s perfect though and we must all share the responsibility and blame for such an underperformance.


In the next step, we elected a new Beer Festival Chairman and negotiations on specifics with the committee at Strutts were underway.


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