Beer Festivals;

are you planning one?

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  Beer Festival co-ordination.

An increasing number of beer festivals are appearing all over Cheshire. Some are run by, or in conjunction with CAMRA. Others are run by pubs, clubs or charity organisations. CAMRA is keen to support any such event that promotes awareness and choice of real ale.

We would like to offer our services to assist you in the planning and running of your festival. You are urged to contact us at an early stage in the planning process. We have drawn up a list of things to consider, but here are some notes of the main ways in which CAMRA can help you.

It makes sense to plan the date early, and to avoid a clash with other festivals in the area. In recent years, we have seen a number of date clashes, with a consequent adverse effect on turnover at each venue. If you can let us know your intended dates, we can advise you of potential clashes, and we will publish the dates so others can avoid your date too.

You cannot have too much publicity. Leaving aside your own efforts in postering, leafleting, on-site notices and advertising in the local press, we can offer further outlets.

We can carry details both on our web-site and in our newsletter, "Out Inn Cheshire", whether in the editorial or as an actual advertisement. The newsletter is read by around 30,000 pub-users, so this is a highly targeted way of advertising.

Please be aware though, that we publish quarterly, and you will need to give us plenty of notice to ensure that we can publicise your event in the issue closest to your dates. A lead time of four months or so might be needed, depending on the dates involved.
When you tell us about your festival, please let us have as much detail as you can;
· Dates and hours of opening
· Costs of entry
· Number (and details if possible) of real ales and ciders
· Details of food
· Location and transport details
· Details of music and other attractions

CAMRA members can help by distributing leaflets for you in pubs all over the county.

Signage on and near the site is also important. We recommend the use of posters, A-boards and banners.

While CAMRA has some equipment which may just possibly be available for hire, we appreciate that most festival operators will make their own arrangements. This can be a time-consuming and frustrating activity.
To assist, we would be happy to sponsor a programme of lending and borrowing taps, stillages, chocks, cooling equipment, hand pumps etc with your fellow festival operators, If you would like to take part in such a scheme, let us know what you have to lend, and we will try to co-ordinate you all!

We recommend the use of lined oversized glasses, to avoid spillage.
Plastic glasses are not popular with drinkers, and should only be used if absolutely necessary.
You should give thought to the cooling of the beers in warm weather.
Customers appreciate the use of chairs and tables if space permits.

Choice of beers
You will no doubt have your own ideas here, but if you like, we are happy to offer advice. We would always, for example, encourage you to have a degree of variety of styles, with examples of a wheat beer, a golden ale, a fruit beer, a porter or stout, a mild, a strong ale, a session bitter and some cider or perry, in addition to the more obvious strong bitters. We would strongly advocate the presence of at least some Cheshire-brewed real ale. 'LocAle' is an important issue, and many of your customers will be aware of the need to support local businesses in this enjoyable and ecolgocally sensible maner!
Part of your customer base will be people seeking out rare beers, and you should bear this in mind when ordering.
We would always recommend the availability of soft drinks (possibly even free for nominated drivers).
We do not advocate selling lagers, keg beers, cans or bottles (preferably at all, but certainly not from the same bar) as this confuses the message, and prejudices the sale of your cask beer, where good turnover is absolutely essential. In most cases, the casks you have ordered for the festival will need to be sold during the course of the festival itself, and you should strongly encourage the lager drinkers to switch to cask beer for the duration.

Many festival goers appreciate the availability of food. Often this is better if it is simple.

Other attractions
We recommend pub games, and can in suitable circumstances provide these (under our supervision). Live Music can bring in lots of customers, although others can find it off-putting. Most CAMRA festivals have at least one music-free session.
If you can co-ordinate your event so that it coincides with a sports event or other attraction on the same site, you will attract more customers.

CAMRA presence
We may be able to have members present at your festival, for at least some of the time, to staff a membership & information stand, run games or even to assist on the bar if you need help. Our experienced Bar Managers can also offer practical advice and assistance if you need it.
We can provide attractive posters to brighten up the venue, and we now have large banners to help draw attention to your event.

Although you may expect many casual visitors to your event, it is vital that you generate as much support from your own customer base as possible.
Sports and Social clubs should try to arrange milestone events to coincide with the festival, so as to generate a captive audience.
Pub festivals should be promoted vigorously to the regulars.

If you are new to festival organising, visit other people's festivals to get ideas, and talk to us. We have a wealth of experience and are happy to help.
Please follow this link to a useful Check-List for Festival Organisers

All contents copyright 2004, Macclesfield and East Cheshire CAMRA Branch.
All rights reserved. Last Revised: March 7, 2009
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