Threat to beer festival

PUBLISHED: 10:58 15 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:40 06 May 2010

Ian Hannah (left) and Andy Rawnsley, of Hitchin Round Table, celebrate the success of last year’s event with a pint

Ian Hannah (left) and Andy Rawnsley, of Hitchin Round Table, celebrate the success of last year’s event with a pint

THE seventh annual Hitchin Beer Festival takes place next weekend – but there are fears surrounding its future. The event, which is organised by the Hitchin Round Table and North Herts CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) group, takes place on Friday, March 23 a

THE seventh annual Hitchin Beer Festival takes place next weekend - but there are fears surrounding its future.

The event, which is organised by the Hitchin Round Table and North Herts CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) group, takes place on Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24 at Hitchin Town Hall.

Christopher Owen, of the Round Table, said although feedback for the event is always excellent, the uncertainty over the future of the town hall, which is in Brand Street, could have repercussions for the festival.

North Hertfordshire District Council could either sell the town hall or lease it out from as early as September this year.

Mr Owen said: "The only concern is the future of the festival. The town hall is integral to the success of the festival given its large capacity - the main hall holds 500 people - and it is in a very central location.

"If the town hall were sold an alternative venue in Hitchin would be difficult if not impossible to find.

"Other venues do have their various merits, but nothing can rival the town hall."

Mr Owen added: "There are possible alternatives such as the social club at Payne's Park, or perhaps Woodside Hall. The festival is just another example of where the town could lose out if the hall is sold."

At this year's Best of Beers festival there will be a selection of around 60 beers, with other perrys and ciders, and many of the beers are festival winners from around the country.

More space is available for the festival this year as the sports hall will be used as a family and food area, which will also include a selection of stalls.

Mr Owen said: "Last year we had approximately 1,450 visitors and we hope to have over 1,700 visitors this time."

Both Hitchin Round Table and North Herts CAMRA are actively looking for new volunteers as events such as this require a large number of willing helpers.

The festival opens at midday on Friday and it will be serving beer until 11pm. It will reopen on Saturday at 11am and will again close at 11pm.

Entry is £1 on Friday lunchtime and £2.50 at all other times. Members of the Round Table, CAMRA, EBCU and pensioners can get in free.


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