Beer Festivals;

are you running one?

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  Beer Festival Organiser's Aide Memoire

This is a first draft; please let us know if you have any further suggestions or comments

General
Attend other festivals to see what is possible and what is done right and wrong.
Talk to other festival organisers (CAMRA, pub or local hall)
Plan your festival in detail, a long time in advance.
Allocate areas of responsibility to specific individuals, and keep on top of progress.

Publicity
This is vital to the success of the event.
Consider every possibility.
Use press releases and stories as well as paid advertising in local papers and CAMRA newsletters.
Local paper, radio, posters, flyers should all be considered.
Seek support from other organisations such as CAMRA, Round Table, sports clubs, council etc.
Ensure that at the very least, the local newspaper and the CAMRA newsletter and web-site carry the basic information about your festival well in advance.
Consider setting up your own web-site.

Site
Check Licence requirements.
Talk to the Fire Service about the fire limit and fire safety issues.
Talk to Local Authority Health & Safety Officer.
Consider the site critically for suitability for the event.
Insurance cover.
Bar Counter needed.
Length of occupation of the site must be sufficient to allow for stillaging of the cask beers early enough to settle and the taking down.
Insurance must be held.
Security (of the beers before the event and of the site and attendees during the event).
Tables & Chairs.
Stands for attractions.
Games equipment and space.
Toilets, washing facilities.
Glass washing.

Dates
Avoid clashes with other festivals and other significant events within 30 miles.

Local CAMRA
Can provide advice, publicity, staff and customers.

Budget & Financial
Budget needs to be conservative. There must be a low attendance contingency plan.
Barrellage should be estimated conservatively, based on length of the event.
Entry fee or not?
Pre-sale of tickets?
Tokens or cash at the bar? Consider security aspects of cash handling.
Pricing policy; aim to match local pub prices, and make lower strength beers cheaper than stronger ones.
Consider 5p price banding.
Sponsorship of barrels, glasses etc. can be a useful source of income.
Consider involving a Charity. This will encourage helpers, sponsors, press and attendees, as well as benefiting a good (possible local) cause.

Other attractions
Try to make the event appealing to a wide audience; beer lovers may not be enough.
Music (licence)
Food (consider involving local farmers, butchers, whole food outlets, to arrange food tastings etc; Make the event a food and beer festival to widen the appeal.)
Provide stands for other bodies to provide income and interest.
Tie in with other events such as a car boot sale, sports events, well-dressing, May Queen etc.
Games.
Talk to outside bodies and arrange a Classic car meet, cycling or hiking club event.

Cellarmanship/Bar Manager
Choice & Range of beers
(This should be wide enough to be interesting, within the planned barrellage. To enlist the support of CAMRA, no lagers, keg beers or pasteurised bottles should be sold. We recommend the range includes a mild, a stout, a wheat or fruit beer, a pale refreshing ale for lager drinkers, and a mix of strong and session bitters. Cider should be considered. Soft drinks and water should be provided for staff, drivers, children and other non-drinkers. If there is an on-site bar, careful consideration should be given to closing it for the duration to avoid competition.)
Talk to CAMRA, brewers, free houses and wholesalers about supplies. Some discounts may be available.
Cellarmanship and bar manager; who looks after the beers, who holds the licence?
Talk to an experienced licensee for general advice.
Stillaging is needed for casks (Plan your cask handling methods, too).
How long is the beer stillaged for?
Glasses have to be supplied, washed and disposed of if broken.
The bar counter itself, hand pumps or gravity dispense? Taps, lines, pegs, cleaning materials etc.
Beer Cooling methods must be considered.

Staffing
Need enough to cover the bar, other attractions, entry, security, first aid, cleaning etc.
Setting up and taking down also need suitable numbers.
Training, First aid and washing facilities.

Misc

Programme; if you have one, it should include at least a beer list with tasting notes, a short piece from CAMRA, reference to the food etc.

Transport; where do the customers come from? Talk to local bus or train operators. In extreme circumstances, consider a minibus service, although this carries obvious financial risks.

Signage on site; visitors should be able to find toilets, food, first aid, fire extinguishers, emergency exits etc.
The festival should be highly visible to passers by; banners can be displayed outside the property.

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All rights reserved. Last Revised: March 7, 2009
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