Why do we bother?

It was Bank Holiday Monday and, after a 70-hour week working at the beer festival, I was slumped in front of my laptop catching up on emails. And then I read it!

Here is the message, as received:

This years beer festival was the same dull as dishwater event as previous years, why not learn from other camera branches on how they run their events, we went to the Newark event on Friday evening, it was fantastic, brilliant venue, well run, good food, good music. it makes Lincolns event look very amateurish. Why was the drill hall so hot inside on Thursday evening????   real beer lovers take my advice and head to Newark and avoid the poor at best, Lincoln attempt. we will never ever attend Lincolns beer festival again.

Having allowed a few minutes to recover my equilibrium, I sent the following response:

I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy your visit to the Lincoln Beer Festival.

Let me address the heat issue first.  Unfortunately, just before the Festival, the Drill Hall’s usual LED lighting system developed a fault and had to be sent away for repair.  As a result, they had to use spotlights which throw out a huge amount of heat.  The increased temperature then meant that the beer coolers were working harder and throwing out more heat.  The Drill Hall technical staff tried to set the lighting to the minimum level that we could work with but it made little impact.

Thursday at our Festival is a deliberately low-key affair to cater for the many drinkers who want to enjoy good beer and good conversation in a relaxed, civilised atmosphere.  Had you attended on Friday, you would have had a very different experience.  We were at maximum capacity from 2pm until 9pm, and people queued for up to an hour to get in.  Surely, we must be doing something right.  And our music programme on Friday and Saturday was outstanding.

I agree that our Festival is “amateurish”.  The scores of helpers who put in a huge amount of time and effort to stage the event are all unpaid volunteers.

If you have time to let me have some constructive criticism, I will happily take it to our Beer Festival wash-up meeting in three weeks’ time.

I’m still waiting for a reply.

So why do we bother? It’s because this was one of only a handful of negative comments we received, and the others made valid points in a reasonable tone.

And what about the rest of the 3,500 festival-goers? From the smiling faces and complimentary comments they made as they left, I think we can assume that they enjoyed themselves. I hope we’ll see them again next year.