Houston’s 2011 inaugural Beer Festival is now history and while many enjoyed the craft beers and the many flavors and styles offered, others left the scene with a bad taste in their mouths.
Houstonians have been waiting patiently for improvements in the local beer scene and craft beer lovers everywhere were thrilled to learn that Houston was going to host an official beer festival featuring malt beverages from all over the country and the world. Organizers of the festival promoted it through several web sites including Facebook. There appeared to be strong interest in the festival and organizers felt they had responded appropriately, with plenty of breweries, hundreds of kegs, dozens of food vendors, and all of the other necessities to make this first ever beer festival one to remember.
However, the organizers apparently underestimated the popularity of craft beer in the Houston area. They planned for about 10,000 attendees but, much to their surprise, the attendance was double initial estimates. Worse, there was only one entrance to the festival and that meant long waits in line for thousands of guests. Add to that the extreme temperatures of nearly 100 degrees, and you have all the ingredients necessary for fatigue, frustration, and resentment.
Exactly why the event’s organizers did not plan more efficiently for this event is unknown. Tickets were purchased online, so one would assume that the number of tickets sold had to be known by someone. Unless there was a software breakdown, there is no way that the counting mechanism could have accidentally miscalculated the tickets sold by a factor of fifty percent.
Then, there is the problem with entrance. There was only one point of entry and two lines. Even if organizers knew there would only be 10,000 attendees, it still would have been wise to set up multiple entrances. A single point of entry would still mean long waits in line and valuable time wasted- time that could have been spent purchasing beer, buying food, and increasing total revenues for the event and, ultimately, its sponsored charity.
On a positive note, those who managed to make their way inside the festival gates had an enjoyable experience. There was plenty of beer to sample, food to eat, and music to enjoy. And those who did not get to attend due to the long lines will, of course, received refunds. All one has to do is contact the event by sending an e-mail to [email protected]
Next year’s Houston Beer Festival is going to be better, organizers say. It will be expanded to a two- day event and the errors experienced this time around will be rectified. In the meantime, we will have to chalk up this initial festival as a learning experience for all involved. It was, after all, the first event of its kind and the enthusiasm caught organizers a little off guard.
Houston’s 2011 Beer Festival is now behind us, but it will remain in the memories of many potential attendees for, unfortunately, all the wrong reasons. It also proves an important point that many in the area have been arguing for a long time: Houstonians love their craft beer and will go to great lengths to satisfy their passion. But this brand of love is not unconditional and Houston Beer Festival organizers need to make sure they do their homework and present a new and improved event in 2012. One bad aftertaste is tolerable, but a second could spell the end to what was supposed to be a day of relaxation and craft beer bliss in the Bayou city.
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