article originally appeared in the Spring
2005 edition of Sussex
of you reading this magazine will have attended
(and hopefully enjoyed greatly) the 15th
Sussex Beer & Cider Festival at Hove
Town Hall from 10-12 March.You may or may
not have noticed, depending on how much
you drank, how wonderfully well everything
went, all according to plan, under the expert
leadership of wonder woman, Festival Organiser,
did it really go like this? My personal
diary suggests that not everything went
June 2004 –
invited to trip to Crouch Vale (Beer of
the 2004 Festival Presentation). On way
back, strange woman with yellow eyes comes
and sits next to me on the coach, claims
to be the Festival organiser, Ingrid Sharp,
and ‘persuades’ me to volunteer
to help with the 2005 Festival
2004 – attend a Festival
Committee meeting and somehow get job as
2004 – Festival Committee
meeting – same strange woman with
yellow eyes keeps feeding me with Harveys.
Result is that I get roped in to a food
tasting session with a potential caterer
as I appear to be the sole Vegetarian on
the committee despite ceasing to be a vegetarian
a good few months back.
2004 – On way back from food
tasting get asked by Ingrid to take on the
‘non Treasurer’ jobs in the
list of Treasurer duties, become ‘her’
assistant with responsibility for everything
to do with ‘tickets’ and the
design and procurement of the Festival glasses.
2004 – signing mandate forms
for writing cheques lead to several meetings
in public houses, not all bad news. Festival
Organiser declares herself pregnant –
see what drinking beer can do to you! Big
congrats to both Ingrid and Daniel.
2004 – emergency meeting
with Festival Organiser in Evening Star
and forget to discuss the beer festival.
The Dark Star Sussex Porter is excellent.
2004 – appointed Ingrid’s
Secretary, far from sure what this is about.
Not allowed to take minutes of Committee
meetings. New Treasurer, Alison Pinkham,
elected on Brighton & South Downs Branch
trip to Oakham as all Committee members
present except sole member from other Branches.
But am I upset?
2004 – all going well, meet
with Alison in the Selden Arms to sign some
more bank mandate forms. The Grand Union
Honey Porter is extremely good. Take to
Alison straight away as she goes completely
out of her way and gives me a lift home
all the way to Ferring.
2004 – take part in quizzes
at the Harbour View in Portslade, (Alison
owns the pub!), with Ingrid (and spouses)
and win loads of prizes. Glasses ordered.
Agreement reached with Festival Programmes
company for them to design and print our
programme for no charge to us while they
procure adverts and keep the revenue. Decide
to increase our own advertising with the
use of beermats – designed and produced
by Colourfast Ltd in Brighton
2005 – discover I am coulrophobic
but get no sympathy from rest of committee
Tickets sales started and going well. Ingrid
starts wearing a clown’s red nose.
Beer organisers working hard on ordering
2005 – ticket sales going
spectacularly well. Friday night is sold
out. Trying to cram everything into the
space available in the programme is fun.
Get stressed out, have a tantrum and offer
resignation. Get told by Ingrid to not be
so stupid. Committee agree to play CDs on
the Hove Town Hall PA system when live bands
not playing. Told that I can’t supply
the music because of my weird tastes. Agreed
that everybody will bring in a couple of
2005- nothing to do with festival
but go with Alison to see Fairport Convention
on their 39th anniversary tour at Worthing
Pier Pavilion. Absolutely superb, wonder
if they will play at next year’s festival
for free beer!
2005 – get job of designing
t-shirts for set-up crew and festival merchandise.
Absolutely hopeless at it so get Ingrid
and Daniel to help. Not everything goes
smoothly so necessary to call in a marriage
Guidance Counsellor to prevent them throttling
2005 – inundated with ticket
applications and phone calls about ticket
availability. Learn spiel off by heart,
advising callers that tickets are available
for sessions other than Friday night. Wife
(Jan) refuses to go anywhere near the phone
anymore. Get used to answering the phone
as ‘SCBF Ticket Sales’
2005 – ‘Final’
Beer List received. Jan spends all weekend
putting beer symbols next to each beer –
not easy mixing text and images in Word.
Programme submitted to designers.
March 2005 – Festival set-up
begins, scaffolding and beer arrive and
by end of day are in place. Get given the
vitally important job of assisting carrying
the bacon baps from the food shop across
the road. Go to get Festival T-shirts from
supplier in Cheltenham Place, Brighton.
Get directions, find road – ‘No
Entry’. Go round block and approach
from other end. Can’t get to right
road as I find another ‘No Entry’
sign. Go round block twice more encountering
‘No Entry’ signs before finding
way through the maze of the North Laine
March 2005 – set-up continues,
glasses arrive, everyone seems to like the
design. Then, Allan Moores spots that there
is some sort of ‘deposit’ in
the bottom of each glass (turned out to
be simply a calcium deposit as glasses produced
in a hard water area). Eventually get permission
to use the big industrial glass washer in
the basement kitchen. Try it out but it
doesn’t work. Panic. Ingrid decides
we will wash all the glasses by hand. Several
teams set-up in each of the Town Hall kitchens.
Several hours later we have sparkling clean
glasses. As glasses were my responsibility,
offer resignation – accepted! Programmes
arrive – look really good.
out with Alison much later than planned
to collect unused tickets and revenue from
pub outlets. Get caught in massive traffic
jam. Takes over 4 hours to complete job.
Totally knackered when get home.
March 2005 - wake up at 4am realising
that we don’t have enough programmes-
there can’t be 3,000 in the 5 boxes
delivered. Can’t sleep, so get up
and do some work on the ticketing accounting.
Eventually get to Hove Town Hall and greatly
relieved that there are about 3,300 programmes
delivered in 11 (eleven) boxes. Programmes
look even better when they are inserted
into the sparkling clean glasses. Discover
that I am the only person to bring in CDs
for the PA system, so its old and current
Fairport Convention etc using the superb
Town Hall acoustics.
March 2005 – going well.
Trade session completes without problems.
First public session also good, over 500
people arrive. Recruit new members who not
only will work at the Festival next year
but will provide us with free web space.
Thanks Paul and Helen (and for the lift
home). Decide to ban all red noses for Comic
Relief Day due to phobia.
March 2005 – lunchtime session
excellent. Actually get time to mingle with
the customers and even get a couple of beers.
Make a big faux-pas with beer tokens for
our St Dunstan’s guests. Offer resignation
- accepted. Get cuddle from Ingrid. (When
I was working for a living, why couldn’t
I have had a manager like her?). Evening
session, the usual full capacity. Ask Regional
Director, who will appoint the new festival
Organiser as Ingrid is standing down because
of her forthcoming motherhood. Find myself
promoted to Festival Organiser for 2006.
Mary wearing red nose but not on her face.
No sign of band at the appointed time. Ingrid
starts panicking again. Load of phone calls
made to find them. Eventually turn up. Use
speakers over the Cider Bar. Roger and Jackie
now totally deaf. Still going well. Cider
is running out.
March 2005 – lunchtime session
busy, over 500 customers. First signs that
beer capacity might be a problem when examining
the dip sheets. Tony Gibson and Jackie despatched
to Middle Farm to get more cider. Discover
that we have now sold over 500 advance tickets
for the evening session with at least 300
customers expected at the door. Only 560
glasses left. Everyone panics. Time is 12.40,
emergency glasses held in store on site
in Lancing that closes at 12.30. Frantic
phone calls made, site will stay open to
13.30 but no later. Allan and Mike the Pipe
go to get them – eventually arriving
at 13.45 but manage to persuade the site
officials to stay open. Emergency glasses
obtained – turn out to be spares from
the Worthing festivals 2003 and 2004.
Beer running out. Everyone panics. It’s
all my fault. Offer resignation –
Tony Gibson on return from Middle Farm,
scours the county and obtains bright beer
from several breweries and friendly pubs.
Despatch wife Jan to the Gribble Brewery
at Oving to collect 2 x 4.5 gallon pins.
Make her earn her complementary ticket.
Beer arrives, saved for the moment.
March 16.20 - make presentation
to Ingrid of a huge bouquet of flowers as
a thank you for her work over the past 2
years and in view of her future event. Message
on card reads simply ‘An impossible
act to follow’. I don’t think
that anything could ever be so true. I have
found her totally inspirational. What an
Ingrid is heard to describe the late and
probably the greatest female folk rock singer
Sandy Denny’s voice like a ‘strangled
cat’. I don’t like Ingrid anymore.
March 17.00 onwards - loads of
people arrive. Over 800 through the door
and more coming. Slight hiccup at the door
over tickets set aside. How could I be expected
to remember my daughter’s partner’s
name – I was having enough trouble
in remembering my own name although it was
pretentiously printed on the back of my
T-Shirt. 20.00, beer in Main Hall appears
to have nearly run out. Ingrid panics and
starts meowing like a cat. Nothing will
console her, not even a saucer of Millis
Winter Witch. Decide to take control and
take her for a walk. Off to the Quiet Bar
and show her that there is still loads of
beer. Having trouble bumping into things
as my nose appears to have got a lot longer.
21.00, everyone still appears to be happy
and there is still beer in the Quiet Bar.
Band in Main Hall looks like it is doing
a great job.
March 22.00. - We’ve made
it and still there is a small amount of
beer left in the Quiet Bar.
the customers leave and the staff have a
wild party. Well, not exactly. I’ve
never been to a more subdued affair, everyone
shattered but feeling good over their part
in the Festival.
March 2005 - Sunday morning –
12.15 - leave Town hall in minibus. Chat
to driver who offers to give us a quote
for all our transportation costs next year
and to do all the arranging. Festival work
continues right to the end!
March 2005 - Sunday morning –
10.15 – arrive at Town Hall for take-down.
Supposed to have been there for 09.00 but
delayed by need for coffee. Others have
been doing the hard work of taking down
casks and scaffolding for hours.
March 2005 – carry on Town
Hall clear up. Get job of getting the bacon
baps again. By 15.00 everything cleared
and Ingrid and I are the last to leave,
still on a high and feeling very job satisfied.
how successful was the Festival? Well we
catered for 3,000 customers expecting 2,800
but managed to get over 3,300. Something
in the order of 15,000 pints were drunk
and people were extremely happy so the Festival
must have been an enormous success.
was no way that this success could have
been achieved without the help of all our
members who gave up their valuable time
to help plan, set-up and work at the festival.
We are already starting on Next Year’s
event, which will be held on 9th,
10th and 11th March 2006. One thing
for sure, we will need to plan for an even
bigger event next time. Immediate plans
are to visit as many other Beer Festivals
as possible to harvest their good ideas.
Somebody has to do it.