15,000 to be refunded as Oktoberfest Beag beer festival cancelled

The long-term future of one of Cork’s most popular festivals is at risk after organisers pulled the plug on it last night on foot of vintners objections.

Daryl Cronin, the man behind Oktoberfest Beag, the annual celebration of German food, beer and music, said he had no option but to cancel this year’s event outright a week before opening night.

The process of contacting the 15,000 people who booked tickets is under way and refunds will be arranged.

And the fallout may hit the Liam Miller charity game due to be played in Páirc UíChaoimh on September 25.

Talks were under way to use the beer fest site for some match-day parking, but there are concerns now that the site may not be available.

Mr Cronin said he was bitterly disappointed to cancel an event which has grown to become one of the city’s largest festivals.

Established nine years ago as a two-day festival on the former Beamish and Crawford site, it has grown into a six-day event over two weekends on the docklands site which hosts the Live at the Marquee concert series.

Mr Cronin said he will have to review the long-term future of the event amid concerns about the financial impact of the cancellation.

Even though it is the industry norm to apply for special exemptions weeks in advance, an application was made in court yesterday for a general singing and dance and occasional licence to cover the staging of the Oktoberfest Beag events.

But the Cork branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) objected, citing concerns about the strength of alcohol that would be on sale, and highlighting security concerns for patrons and door staff in city centre pubs caused by Oktoberfest Beag revellers pouring into the city from 10.30pm.

The application process was adjourned to facilitate talks between both sides.

Chairman of the VFI, Michael O’Donovan, said they were satisfied with the outcome of those talks and confirmed to Mr Cronin their intention to withdraw the objection. The matter was due to come before the courts again next Tuesday.

Mr Cronin said he asked the vintners for a letter of support to ensure their position on withdrawing the objection wouldn’t change between now and then.

Mr O’Donovan said they weren’t in a position to provide such a letter, but added: “We finished the meeting by wishing the promoter well.

“We hoped the event would go ahead. But he had to make a commercial decision.”

Mr Cronin said by close of business last night, with contractors lined up and no guarantee that the VFI’s objection might be raised again on Tuesday, he had to make the call to cancel.

“I had contractors due on site over the weekend and I had to be fair to them, and to the people who travel from overseas to the event. It’s very disappointing,” he said.

Mr O’Donovan said it was the first time in many years that the VFI branch had objected to an event or festival.

“People were OK when it was a weekend festival but six nights over two weekends is hurting those VFI members who are trying to survive 52-weeks of the year.”

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