Beer festivals go flat with poor support
Marlborough will have two fewer summer festivals after the cancellation of Blues, Brews and BBQs and Summer Beer Fest.
Organisers of Blues and Brews, the Blenheim Round Table, put a notice in today's Marlborough Express announcing the cancellation.
They blamed declining public support and changes to the event structure. They would not comment further.
The annual Blues and Brews event has decreased in popularity since it began in 1994. Ticket sales were at an all-time low this year with about 2000 sold.
The event was held at the A&P Showgrounds in Blenheim in February and offered a variety of beer, food and entertainment.
The Summer Beer Fest was only in its third year and show-cased boutique breweries.
Organiser Dietmar Schnarre said Marlborough did not have the population to make it a viable event.
He hoped to run the event -biennually, but was looking for a partner to help with the cost.
A traffic management plan would be needed, as well as the introduction of tickets and enclosing the festival area. The cost would be too much for a single person to cover, he said.
"The whole country has been swamped with beer festivals," Mr Schnarre said.
"I've put everything on hold."
He was open to teaming up with Blues and Brews and creating a festival that focused on quality, rather than quantity.
"The future is in establishing flavours to be enjoyed, not to drink until you vomit."
Marlborough Express beer writer Geoff Griggs said it was sad that Blues and Brews hadn't evolved to reflect the modern taste in beer.
"It was still based around volume as opposed to quality."
Festival organisers were pressured to take the festival in the wrong direction, he said.
It wasn't just the Round Table being old fashioned, they also had a lot of things forced upon them by the authorities, he said.
Replacing glass with plastic, making the festival R18 and also bringing the closing time forward were all bad ideas, he said.
"It's a lot harder for people to behave like an idiot when you've got families there," he said.
"The kind of people that are going to cause problems are not going to stop drinking at 6pm on a Saturday in summer."
He was more upset about the cancellation of the Summer Beer Fest.
"The irony is we make all these fantastic, award winning beers and we have no summer festival to celebrate them," he said.
Marlborough Motel Association president Noel Noble said the cancellation of the annual festival wouldn't have much effect on Marlborough moteliers.
In the 3 years he had been association president, the festival had not been a major event in Marlborough, he said.
"It turned out to be a local drink day for the young ones," Mr Noble said.
"I can't see it being any great worry for moteliers around the place."
Colleagues in the motel industry told him things were different when the festival first started in 1994.
"Buses were chocka full of people heading to the festival," he said.
"People used to come from out of town but it's just lost it's popularity."
- The Marlborough Express