Well, the tent’s down, the bar’s back inside, and that’s another festival done and dusted here at Tempest HQ. On Saturday 30th September, we hosted our 2nd annual Oktoberfest – 3rd festival overall – here at the brewery, and it was a day packed with great beer, good food, and lots of fun. We wanted to take a look back at the day, and also look even further back to how it compares with our very first festival…
The prep for Oktoberfest began way back at the start of June when we set the date and started writing down lists of all the stuff we’d need to think about, things to book, people to contact…they were some pretty daunting lists to start with. We’ve learned a lot since Oktoberfest 2016 – our first festival – and this time we wanted to take all that learning, and knock this festival out the park.
We decided that based on the growth in interest and ticket sales between Oktoberfest 2016 and Springfest 2017, that we’d increase our ticket numbers to allow more people to come and enjoy what we had on offer. We had the space, and with a bit of forward planning on staff and beer, we’d be more than capable.
On July 1st at 10am, we released 200 Early Bird tickets for those who were keen…and they sold out in less than two hours. We started selling standard tickets the following day, and later we even released an extra 50 tickets, taking our total ticketholder count to 900. So, between ticket holders, guests, staff, vendor staff, and musicians, we were looking at about 1000 people onsite.
So fast forward to the big day itself. We’d had a crazy week already having attended the Scottish Beer Awards and getting everything set-up. The tent was put up on the Wednesday, giving us so much more time to get everything in it set-up and tested and organised and decorated. By Friday evening, after a couple very hard day’s work, few tasks remained and all that was left to do was start the show!
12pm on the 30th of September appeared to arrive out of nowhere; it felt like only the previous day we’d been sat discussing what date to have the festival on and suddenly there were people queued at the entry desk waiting to get in. We won’t give you an hour by hour account of how the day went, but outside of a few issues – Bonnie Burrito sadly breaking down, vendors running out of food, a couple hiccups on a couple beer lines – the day went great. Our entire team kept commenting to each other how well the day was going. We were ran off our feet and busy, sure, but everything was going as smooth as we could hope for.
The entire day had a brilliant atmosphere; people enjoying beer with their friends in the rare Scottish sunshine, eating delicious food, and dancing away to some awesome local acts. There’s barely more you could ask for, and as organisers, we were chuffed to see so many people having a great time. By the time 10pm rolled round, we were exhausted, beat, and ready for bed, but incredibly happy, and proud of what we’d managed to put together.
We get asked a lot now about why we host these festivals. It’s really a simple answer; we love having people round at our brewery for a party. The people who come are a great mix of locals, city folk who are fans of the beer, families, students, friends, all coming down with one goal in mind and that’s to have a great time. It gives us the chance to meet the people who drink our beer, meet our neighbours and show them what we’re up to, catch up with friends, and do it all while showcasing our beer and the people who make it. It’s an opportunity for us to show our thanks to the people who drink our beer, and give something back to the community we’re part of. There’s really nothing else to it.
Oktoberfest 2017 VS Other Festivals
So how does this festival compare to our previous ones? Things have changed a lot since that first festival in September 2016, we hope for the better.
In hard figures, the number of people onsite continues to increase:
So just in numbers, the festival has grown significantly since last year. However, in our opinion, the atmosphere was very much the same, and more people didn’t hinder the day; if anything it just meant more people on the dancefloor later at night!
The biggest changes in the festivals really come from the layout and how we set out the bars, and different areas. Oktoberfest 2016 was just the bar in the L-shaped tent out back, food vendors in the car park, and a smaller relief bar outside our brewery shop. We had three hot food vendors, one cake vendor, and one ice cream vendor.
For Springfest, the tent remained the same, but we switched up the layout inside our units; the Warehouse housed our first foray into an Imperial Beer Bar, and the Brewery was cleared to make room for our cake and ice cream vendors, as well as a new coffee vendor and a gin bar.
Oktoberfest this year, we wanted to make some big changes and really develop the space we had for the larger amount of people as well as taking into account all the feedback we received about seating, noise levels, etc. We got two large tents joined by a walkway, made massive improvements to our Main Bar, and developed our Imperial Beer Bar area even further. The Main Bar got revamped, and we tried to have at least two taps of each beer on the back bar as well as 3 or 4 taps of our biggest sellers – Modern Helles, Long White Cloud etc – on the front bar.
We scrapped the area inside the brewery as almost all the feedback told us that the brewery tours were hindered by all the noise, and it also allowed us more time for focussing on other areas rather than playing Tetris trying to find room for everything. Vendors that were housed in that area previously were moved around; Tasty Buns were now back inside the Warehouse, Over Langshaw and Luckie Beans got better visibility and footfall from being outside, and we moved the gin bar provided by Electric Spirit Co inside the Main Tent. We’re still experimenting with the perfect seating arrangement, but we definitely improved massively over Springfest.
The other change we made was getting even more additional staff on board for the day, which allowed our team a little more comfort and relief throughout the day compared to how busy and overworked they were at Springfest. More staff meant an easier time all round not just for us, but for people queuing at the bar too. This is something that did not go unnoticed in the feedback survey we conducted, which is always great to see.
Now that we’ve got a bit of experience under our belt and we know roughly what to expect, we feel that we can now focus on continuing to develop the festival experience every time we host them. Try some new vendors, build on the brewery tours, new beers, new entertainment…the potential for experimentation is endless and that’s really exciting for us as it keeps the festivals fun for us to organise.
And so, we come to the final part of the blog which is almost undoubtedly what you came for…when is our next festival? Get these dates in your calendars…
See you there!
Big thanks once again to Fresh Revolution, The Roaming Chippy, The Grind, Hadrian’s Pizza, Over Langshaw Ice Cream, Luckie Beans, Tasty Buns Bakery, Electric Spirit Co, Thistly Cross Cider, Best Intent Marquees, Sean Dineen, The Balancing Ducks, Blackthorne Ceilidh Band, Fraser & Coverdale, The Stare, DarkHorse, Grindstone, and DJ Neil Rankin.