Sour grapes at Calpe’s Beer Festival

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WHEN times are hard businesses look to any way to keep their profits. In Calpe the food and drinks trade are lobbying to alter the current arrangements for their town’s Beer Festival held in October. The Festival has been running since 1988 and over the years has expanded to its current format of 10 days. This length of time, and the fact that it straddles a Spanish long weekend was the subject of recent criticism from the town’s traders.

The argument is that customers are lost to other businesses in the town, and as such the Festival should be re-scheduled so as it does not take place at a peak time, thus depriving the town’s bars the higher influx of clients at that period. Also the length of the Festival should be shortened from ten to four days.

Calpe’s Association of Hostellers has submitted a petition, signed by 100 of their members, to the town hall, requesting changes.

“Some nights (during the Festival) we find we close at 10.30pm because we have no customers. The Festival would survive a change in its dates; that would be a lesser evil. For us the difference could be up to a month’s trade, and our trade has dropped by 80% because of the crisis.” Said Jorge Coca, spokesman for the Association.

He added that “The Festival distorts competition as they (the Festival) pays no local taxes and receives a subsidy from Calpe.” Making it a double whammy in favour of the once a year event. Although the petition was submitted last November, the Association has yet to receive a reply from the town hall.

The submission of the petition has further heightened tension’s between the town’s Association and the CCC (Calpe’s Carnival Club) who organise the event. The Association argues that the length of the Festival be reduced to four days in line with all of the region’s other beer festivals.

Meanwhile, the president of CCC, Gaby Schaefer, said that the criticism was unfair, saying that in both 2010 and this year they have not received any subsidies .”In addition, we also collaborate with municipal activities and in the Food Fair in Calpe and provide tables and chairs for free,” he said. And as to reducing days, “If the same people come in half the amount of days, the tent would be small. Also the services and infrastructure would be inadequate and overcrowded, with the risk that entails. It is now a matter of safety” said Schafer.

The Calpe Carnival Club was formed in 1982 by a score of German residents seeking fun and bring up the essence of the original Okoberfest in Munich. Up to 400 people attend from all over Europe to provide entertainment during the Festival. All this is financed by the profits made at the Oktoberfest, said the president of CCC, Gaby Schaefer

 By Paul Deed

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