2011 Beer Festivals

Delightful brews . . .

The Hexham Courant was really rather brilliant at reporting bigger events at communities within its catchment area. Our local weekly may not have been the most accurate, all of the time, but it did have a good heart, most of the time.

On the matter of the funds actually raised at the Beer and Bands Festival, however, the likely sum, as mentioned in the article after the event, was probably communicated by an over-enthusiastic Lion, so we can’t blame the paper for that one!

In the event, as reported at the September business meeting, the actual profit from the festival was some £800. This money also included proceeds from the book and video stall run by Prue Newman, which was an extra fillip of interest to folks wandering around and through the big marquees. Especially those who may not have enjoyed one or another of the bands.

But in fact, the numbers attending the festival were down by 20% from the previous year’s effort, and the sale of drinks was down by some 30%. What was that we were mentioning about austerity biting?

Fund-raising, it would appear, was going to be challenging, in future, when folks were tightening their belts all over the place.

2011 Beer Festivals

Publicity for the Beer & Bands Festival, 2011

So great an event, they had to repeat the publicity blurb! The Hexham Courant must have been having a slow news month, since over the course of a fortnight, our local weekly managed to feature the Agricultural Show and accompanying Beer and Band Festival, not once but twice.

The ads were out in both The Crack and The Informer, the regional publicity magazines.

What we may not remember, of course, is that the decade of austerity was probably just starting to bite; George Osborne had ushered in the belt-tightening regime as the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition assumed government in 2010. Perhaps the Courant had already started to lay off parts of its staff, and the paper was desperate for news items.

Or, and this seems more likely, both the Agricultural Show, and the Allendale Lions Club, sent press releases in to the paper, which went with both!

2009 Beer Festivals Fundraising

The Beer & Bands Festival, 2009

The eponymous Beer Festival had been re-branded, this year of 2009, in an attempt I suspect to attract more folks to the event. I don’t know whether the re-branding exercise was deemed to have been successful, or not.

Certainly we all agreed that the Show Ground was the ideal place for such an event, with loud music all afternoon and into the early evening, yet unlikely to disturb too many neighbours. And the opportunity to share the marquee(s) with the Agricultural Show Committee, on the Sunday right after the Show, was too good to pass up.

If I’m not mistaken, this was the year that the lager and cider on tap foundered. I remember this because I borrowed the dispensing equipment, including gas valves, from the village hall bar. Whether the products were too old, going off, or the gas pressure was just wrong and the anti-fobbing devices weren’t working, or whatever, all we could elicit from the fonts was foam. Copious lashings of foam. In the end, we had to retreat to offering chilled cans of Fosters, but to be honest, nobody really seemed to mind. It was just embarrassing to me.

Meanwhile, I believe the barbecue and food service was doing a good trade, and of course the original point of the exercise, showcasing of fifteen real ales from nine breweries, held true. And the bands played on.

I wonder, placing myself in the perspective of 2009, if we’ll be able, as Lions, to keep going with these Beer Festivals, if the financial return is not commensurate with the effort. If the fund-raising is not substantial, I can see that this event might be something that falters. The Tynedale Lions hold an annual Beer Festival in the Corbridge Rugby Club grounds, where they serve some 115 different real ales, and offer many bands for entertainment over an entire weekend. This festival elicits dozens of thousands of pounds in revenue for the club.

We hoped for some significant fraction of that return, but as I recall we never reached more than perhaps a tenth. The friendly bus service put on for the afternoon was not well subscribed, I do seem to remember that dismay.

Well, we’ll just have to see how things turn out, shall we?

2008 Beer Festivals Fundraising

Beer Festival, 2008

It looked like a lovely ad, on the back page of the Hexham Courant, for what promised to be a really GREAT DAY OUT!

I remember this particular Beer Festival. We tried and tried to get the new gas mixer working for the lager and cider fonts. To my intense chagrin, we couldn’t get any good draft out, and eventually we had to give up on that exercise. Let them drink from cans, we shrugged. And so it transpired.

The real ale, however, was in excellent fettle, and the bands played on. I don’t know how many folks took advantage of the free coach ride on offer from Hexham, but what was true enough was the brilliant attendance. And no wonder, with the sunshine in abundance, live music and gallons and gallons of beer, it almost had to be a good day.

Yet again, after another function that was in many ways an enormous feat of endurance, the Allendale Lions were ready to collapse in a huge pile of delight and exhaustion. I think this event also helped to show how wonderful it was to share facilities like the big marquees, with the Agricultural Show Committee, to the benefit of the whole community.

Certainly, that was the direction your faithful correspondent was heading in, as the Allen Valley Notes were submitted to the Courant by late Sunday evening.

2008 Beer Festivals Public Service

Allen Valleys . . . a tourist destination

The full page ad, featuring the Allen Valleys, in the pages of The Informer, a publicity magazine covering the North-East, was part of the North Pennines LEADER+ (the EU-funded scheme for deprived rural areas) scheme.

Paging through Nigel Baynes’ archive, all neatly arranged, laminated and packaged in large binders, I feel sometimes as if I’m retrieving parts of my own life that I’d forgotten. For my sins, I’d arranged a grant from the EU-funded LEADER+ project to enhance tourism on our patch, and the pages of The Informer that Nigel carefully saved were work from that effort.

Of course, the Allendale Lions contributed especially to events, the special occasions that brought the community together. But the life that went on in addition to those events that somehow made the time so enjoyable, that life was reflected in the long list of attractions on the ad. It’s hard to think about community life without context, and perhaps that’s why laying down the archive was so important.

Later, as we know with the benefit of hindsight, the philanthropic activities of the Lions, in the context of the Dene below the village hall, and the redevelopment of the Recreation Ground, would develop into a significant enhancement of the amenities here in Allendale. Meanwhile, touristic enterprises helped the community thrive.

And of course, it was sweet for the author of this piece to mention the upcoming Beer Festival, hot on the heels of the Agricultural Show, and that, as we know very well, was indeed an Allendale Lions event.

2007 Beer Festivals

Beer Festival 2007, continued . . .

What fun, in the giant marquee, as the barbecue helpers (Christine Sherwood, Fran Wraith, Ann Potter, joined in another snap below by Rosemary Granger) smile for the camera. Another set of bar staff have stepped up (looks like Fergus Sandison and Mark Adams, in addition to Terry Page still serving).

Meanwhile, there’s also the book stall and the lager and wine service. Hilary Aldcroft is cajoling a prospective book buyer, while Michael Keene has joined the bar staff. Everyone’s mighty impressed with Fergus’s pulled half-pint!

There was so much to enjoy at this inaugural stand-alone festival. It felt so delightful to share the Agricultural Show’s tent, and to really identify and understand what the community is all about.

Should this sort of thing be an annual affair? Everybody thought so!

2007 Beer Festivals

Beer Festival 2007

The publicity machine was in full force, at the beginning of August, in preparation for the first stand-alone beer festival in Allendale.

Possibly because we liked the beer tent component of an earlier May Fair, and missed it at this year’s event, or possibly because we thought we might have a go at emulating the Tynedale Lions Club’s huge beer festival at the Corbridge Rugby Ground, but for whatever reason we thought we should try an independent event in the marquee that we could share with the Agricultural Society down at their showground.

And so, with superlative help from Allendale Brewery, we did. And then, because we could, we added extras, like live bands and barbecue. We weren’t bothered about the weather, which as I recall was not particularly kind, because the whole event was under canvas, and power for the amplifiers came from the Show Ground facility.

And the crowds came out to enjoy the day! The friendly bar staff lined up to serve the thirsty samplers: Terry Page, Mark Adams, Graham Girvan and Michael Keene, under the watchful supervision of Jim Hick of the brewery.

More on the big festival in the next blog entry, as Nigel Baynes’ archive yields up a treasure trove of memories for us all to enjoy.

2006 Beer Festivals May Fairs

May Fair ’06: Beer Festival

Nigel Baynes’ Archive comes through with some lovely snapshots of the Irish-themed Beer Festival

I met Doug Ness at the Household Waste Recycling Centre, as I believe ‘the dump’ is now known, the other day as I began to dispose of some of the accumulation in our loft. He mentioned that this blog was getting close to the point when he and Irene Ness joined the club.

And then I was wondering, what was it, in those early days, that compelled so many people to want, to really want, to join our happy band? Was it the excitement of the many activities that we put on together? Was it something that an effervescent community simply exhorted by sheer exuberance: come, join in, have fun! Was it ‘all of the above’?

In those early days, we delighted in everything we did. It was all new, exciting, thrilling even. We were in love with the passion of the time. We were, each of us, making a difference, making a contribution. Perhaps it’s no wonder that there was a constant stream of people, folks like Doug and Irene, who looking on said to themselves, we must join this, we must! Good fun must be infectious.

Like the lady said, when Harry met Sally: I’ll have what she’s having!

Anyway, they were great times, weren’t they? This last image, in which Nigel seems to be explaining the strategy of Stephanie Atkinson’s Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey game, also shows the good time being enjoyed by all.