|Argarmeles Clog dancing at the
Sandgrounder Beer Festival
I haven't been to many CAMRA meetings recently and didn't learn until last Saturday when I was on the branch's pub crawl in Wigan that as a result of the letter and the negative publicity it provoked, there will be no festival this year. I'd heard rumours that the last festival had made a big loss, but I was assured on Saturday that it had in fact broken even.
CAMRA beer festivals take at least six months of planning, all carried out by unpaid volunteers who do it all in their own time. The staff at the festival are unpaid too: they can have free beer, but if they overindulge, they'll be asked to stop working.
If the criticisms had been fair, no one could complain. After all, while the organisers and staff might be volunteers, they have to put on as professional an event as possible, seeing that the festival was charging similar prices to pubs in the area.
Anyone who has read ReARM for some time will know that I have never shied away from criticising CAMRA nationally and at local level (my own branch and others); consequently I wouldn't have argued with these complaints if I'd thought they were justified. But they weren't; the volunteers have consequently become disheartened, and the festival is no more.