Organisers at a loss over lack of interest

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 11:09 24/10/2013

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The last two Blues, Brews and BBQs festivals cost the organisers almost $50,000.

Graeme Boon, of the Blenheim Round Table, said they had not made a profit since 2011.

Low ticket sales had resulted in the 2014 festival being cancelled, which was announced on Tuesday.

"We're not making any profit," Mr Boon said. "We couldn't afford to do another one, it's as simple as that."

Ticket sales were at an all-time low earlier this year with about 2000 sold. The festival used to draw more than three times that number, Mr Boon said.

When Blues and Brews started in 1994 it was outstanding, but the past three years had been hard work, he said.

Marlborough regional events co-ordinator Susan Witehira said while Blues and Brews had been on a steady decline, it was still a loss for the region. Festivals were like businesses and had ups and downs. "You can't keep doing the same thing," she said. "You need to keep revamping, or just tweaking things slightly."

She was hopeful a new beer festival would emerge to promote Marlborough's selection of craft beer. "We'll start working with event managers to see who is keen and who we can support," she said. "That's one positive thing that has come out of it."

Mr Boon said boutique breweries didn't want to be involved with Blues and Brews after glasses were replaced with plastic cups in 2010.

Regulations surrounding the liquor licence had increased the cost dramatically for organisers.

Police seemed to be against festivals involving alcohol, but there hadn't been much trouble over the past three years because of the low turnout, Mr Boon said.

He would not rule out a Blues and Brews festival in 2015, but said it was unlikely he would be involved in organising it.

More people would need to get behind the event, he said.

"They've had the opportunity for the past three years to support it," he said. "The bottom line is, if you don't make money, why do it?"

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- The Marlborough Express

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