Hundreds of disappointed ticket holders will be left out of pocket after the company behind a Bank Holiday beer festival went into the wrong sort of liquidation.
It was a bitter and ironic end for the Richmond Fine Food and Real Ale Festival which was due to take place over three nights from August 23 in Old Deer Park, Richmond.
Fans had paid around £22 each to attend the eagerly anticipated event that promised to feature chef demonstrations, talks from food and drink experts, tasting workshops and more than 100 local real ales, ciders and perries.
British soul pioneers Kokomo and blues singer Jo Harman were also due to perform on the music side.
Noted food critic Charles Campion had even endorsed the festival, with the quote: “Local food and drink at its very best, the Richmond Fine Food and Real Ale Festival provides the perfect showcase. See you there!” appearing on all publicity material.
The organisers Three Pears Events had aimed to deliver the ultimate ‘all in one’ festival of great food, beer and entertainment.
Branding themselves as ‘FAB festivals’ (standing for Food and Beer) they boasted of having a wealth of experience in running similar events around the UK.
However, following one such festival in Upton-upon-Severn last month, FAB were reported to have made a hefty £95,000 loss causing it to collapse and be forced to disolve.
If reports of it having no assets are true, it means anyone with a ticket will be unable to get a refund.
Real ale fans are particularly concerned at the lack of information following the cancellation, especially as adverts for it are continuing to appear in magazines such as What’s Brewing - the publication for the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
In response Charles Owens, chairman of the Richmond and Hounslow branch of CAMRA, sent getwestlondon a letter which reads: “As chairman of the Richmond and Hounslow Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, I have been asked to make it clear that the proposed beer festival on The Old Deer Park in Richmond during the August Bank Holiday did not involve our branch and was not endorsed by us.
“I have been given to understand that this event has been cancelled and the organising company liquidated, following sales of tickets and being advertised in the CAMRA newspaper, What’s Brewing.
“This event had no connection to CAMRA other than the publication of the paid for advertisement.
“Disappointed beer-lovers may wish to drown their sorrows (in moderation) at the CAMRA Twickenham Beer and Cider Festival at York House between the 23rd and 25th of October.”
A message from Jo Watts, of Three Pears Events had claimed: “This festival celebrates the very best local producers have to offer in the food and drink industry in London and the surrounding area.
“It is the ultimate day out for our target audience of 25,000 food and drink lovers in this truly idyllic setting. I am really excited to be part of this dynamic team delivering a top quality addition to the UK festival calendar.”
Following the news of the cancellation the official festival website claims to be under maintenance while a simple message on the associated Facebook page blames ‘financial circumstances beyond their control’ for the closure.
However a message on the website streetfoodnews.co.uk reads: “It is with huge regret that FAB Festivals is forced to announce that The Richmond Fine Food and Real Ale Festival will no longer be taking place on Old Deer Park over the August Bank Holiday weekend, 23rd-25th August.
“Following large financial losses incurred at an event held earlier this year by Three Pears Events (UK) Ltd, trading as FAB Festivals, the company has failed to find sufficient financial backing to put the Richmond event on and the company has now ceased to trade.
“Ticket holders, suppliers and participants at the event have been contacted.”