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News Blog

Beers & Sneers: Festival Epilogue

by Jerre Wroble
Posted // 2010-09-13 -

Recently, a small group of friends and I met at a restaurant. I grimaced when I realized our table was near the piano bar. The cheesy music was annoying; we felt like we had to shout to each other. I strained to hear the server. One of our group said, "You know, I'd pay that guy to quit playing the piano." I was about to ask the waiter to seat us elsewhere.

But once our drinks arrived, one of our group wrote down a request for the piano player. Others followed. If the pianist was going to play and intrude on our dinner, we may as well pick out songs we want to hear. Our ears began to adapt, and we were able to carry on normal, even soulful, conversations.

Somehow, the alchemy of music, food and drinks took us to a new place. By evening's end, the piano player's tip jar was full, and we were exchanging phone numbers with him.

A similar thing happened on Saturday at the Utah Beer Fest, organized by City Weekly. Upon opening, many more converged upon the festival gate than we were set up to handle, creating long lines to get in. Once people got inside, there were long lines for the 3-ounce samples of beer. Some found the lines to be too much and left in disgust. Others angrily demanded refunds. Many tweeted and Facebooked their dismay.

But as with the piano bar, the longer people stayed, the more they relaxed, and the more kick-ass the event became. Waves of spontaneous "festival" cheering erupted through the crowds. The 4 p.m. smiling faces were far different from the tense 2 p.m. faces. The beer offerings were diverse and thirst-quenching; the food was fresh and tasty; the bands were on the mark. And I'm sorry that some who came with high expectations left disappointed and missed out on that magical moment when it all starts to come together.

Those who know City Weekly know we take pride in our events. The hospitality of our founder John Saltas is legendary, as you'd discover if you were ever invited to his Big Fat Greek Orthodox Easter Dinner (which he and his wife prepare for 250 of their closest friends). So hearing that people were pissed is painful for both Saltas and our publisher, Jim Rizzi. It will be a point of honor for them to make it better next year. And those haters -- even those who judged it an "epic fail" -- will come back and give the beer fest another chance because it will be too good to miss.

Maybe even Salt Lake City Councilman Luke Garrott.

The District 4 councilman reportedly was among the first to demand a refund at the beer fest. Not content to take back his money and leave, he allegedly went out to those waiting in line and told them not to waste their time. He complained about City Weekly not being able to "deliver." Saltas overheard Garrott's remarks and confronted him, saying that City Weekly had in fact "delivered" 5,000 warm bodies to Garrott's downtown district on a weekend in September when often only tumbleweeds blow down the streets.

Saltas also took the opportunity to school Garrott in other ways City Weekly has "delivered": The paper relocated to Main Street at a time when most businesses were fleeing from it, and we remain here still, with our 40-plus employees spending their paychecks at restaurants, shops and bars all over downtown.

Saltas said he told Garrott that he might someday learn what it means for City Weekly to "not deliver."

Needless to say, Garrott blew an opportunity to exhibit both some class and leadership in a tough situation where his positive example would have gone a long way. It's curious that even though City Weekly was doing business with the City and had reserved the grounds at the City & County Building for the event, Garrott didn't see fit to include it in his own District 4 Update in which he promoted all the other local festivals and markets.

That, Luke, is an example of "not delivering."

Anyway, for those who left with their noses out of joint on Saturday, know that we heard you. We'll make it right. For all others, thanks for coming and proving that Utahns will support a brew fest. Apparently in large numbers. See you next time.

 

 

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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // September 14,2010 at 20:59

I propose makeup sex at Saltas' place. Whaddya say, John? We'll toilet paper your next door neighbor.

 

Posted // September 15,2010 at 12:25 - He'd just have you arrested but the rest of it sounds ok.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // September 14,2010 at 17:55

CityWeekly,

Thank you for having this event. A beerfest in SLC is awsome. However, you have to admit that is was something of a failure. Trying to sugarcoat bs just doesn't change the taste.

I tell all my friends that the only newspaper I read in SLC is CW. That's because I trust you guys - I get the real scoop rather than some half-baked crap. This event has really a dissapointment but that is OK. We all have such things happen in our own lives. But the thing to do now is not try to rewrite history to try to convice us that if we had done something differently we would have had fun because SOME people had fun. That is just as phoney baloney as the local crap we hear from the other newspapers.

Here is what you could do to regain my confiidence - Admit that you messed up. Straight up - not "it was sort of OK" - but by saying "We inteneded for this the be a great festival but it wasn't" Explain what you think went wrong and that these things will be fixed next year. At least for me, that is what will gain my confidence back.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // September 14,2010 at 13:06

I went to The Beer Festival and paid $59.75 for the event it was a complete debacle and it was not what was advertise. It was advertised that we would be able sample as many beers as we wanted. I waited in long lines to get a 3.5 ounce sample average time was 40 minutes in a line and I got 3 samples in 3 hours. I want a significant refund I had 10.5 oz of beer from local brewers that would be less than 1 bottle. That was worth $3 to me and I waited my whole day frustrated and disappointed that the City Weekly did such a poor job and stole so much money from so many people that wanted to support this event. I’m sure you had lots of complaint. I'm frustrated feel ripped off the am very disappointed in how you prepared and went on with the even knowing before you had sold over 5000 tickets and you didn’t have the necessary amount of beer stations to handle that. You had one beer station able to serve people for each beer. What were you thinking? Most people were very unhappy accept the cheaters that didn't wait in line 40 minutes because you had no support to stop line cutting or just hanging out in the front with their friends. This was a joke the biggest fail in Utah for the year. Please write about it as your lead story next week. You need to provide a do over!!!! You have lot of my and other people’s money and were not too happy about it!!!!! You need to do a rent Brewvies night and give out beer from the venders for free private party for the people that paid and got take advantage of!!!!!!!

 

Tim
Posted // September 14,2010 at 16:42 - I'm sure CW will jump right on the raving demands of an illiterate moron.

 

Posted // September 14,2010 at 16:14 - KG! Done and done. Stay in touch. Thanks for your generous offer. John

 

KG!
Posted // September 14,2010 at 15:35 - John, I appreciate the offer but the only thing I'd like you to do for me is maybe let me help in some way, shape or form at the 2nd Annual City Weekly Beerfest. I'm not asking to run it or anything, don't get me wrong. I'd like to help in any capacity, whether it be assisting with line control, keeping the beer vendors hydrated or even doin' some stand up comedy. I figure instead of complaining and offering no solutions, I could at least offer some help. KG!

 

Posted // September 14,2010 at 14:22 - Thanks, Kevin. Was miffed at your FB posts, but I must thank you for your above posting here. Drop me a note on email and I'll figure out something to do for you. So you know, we were nowhere near 5,000 pre sales--that's the number who showed up, many got refunds, and many more just got pissed on the spot and didn't buy. Ticket sales were cut off at 2 or so, but the effect wasn't felt till around 4. Some folks came at that time and said they had a fine festival in just two hours, so it may depend on what one was looking for. At any rate, we do understand and we plan on a real butt kicker next year.

 

KG!
Posted // September 14,2010 at 14:11 - While I agree with wanting a "do over", I don't think Brewvies will be prepared (or allowed to have inside) for 5000 people. I'm just saying. While I was one of the few deeming it an "epic fail" on the FaceBook posting by CW, I would like to thank them for attempting it. It's true that without their effort, I probably would never have tried the Jalapeno Cream Ale. Also, don't get mad at the people who were smart enough to stage their dd's in various lines at the same time to avoid the 45 minute wait! I'm not sorry I outsmarted you. Kevin Gillingham, aka KG!

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // September 14,2010 at 12:54

Lines or no lines, those who weren't the "I want my beer buzz and I want it now!!" babies were mingling, (getting more than 3 oz in many many lines), cheering and having a great time. All the people who actually showed the slightest bit of patience and stuck around chatted about getting their moneys worth after not-too-long, and I DD'd for a great group of people who wouldn't have gotten nearly so *ahem* jovial going to a nearby bar because they wanted to sample all the local brewers. And we found quite a few beers that would not be found at a standard bar; we'd have to hop from one brewery to the next and who wants that for a 4 hour outing on a Saturday Afternoon?

Don't get me wrong, there were things that can be improved, and most likely will be - for example the lines could have been better marked, and if the beweries had been more spread out things probably would have moved faster. But they worked well with what they got. I don't think all the breweries even expected the crush, and I don'tk now that that can be blamed on City Weekly.

(And by the way, CW, THANK YOU for creating this event!!! Everyone can bitch and moan, but without you guys hosting it there wouldnt' be even this start, rough or not. If your festival is so much worse than one in Germany I suggest they pay to go to That- must be cheaper than $25, right?)

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // September 14,2010 at 12:25

Maybe Luke Garrott had a point. 5000 people spent $25 ($35 if they waited until the day of) to spend 4 hours to get the equivalant of 2 1/2 beers, all of which are readily available within a few blocks of the City County building. I love Utah breweries but unless there is more access and more exotic selections of beer I will not be going to future festivals.

 

bch
Posted // September 14,2010 at 16:03 - You better be bitching to the Utah State Legislature about the lack of "exotic choices" of beer.

 

 
 
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