Councillors give mixed reaction to Oktoberfest cancellation

There has been mixed reaction to the news that the Oktoberfest beer festival due to be held next month has been cancelled.

The three-day festival, which has never before been staged in Banbridge, was due to be staged in Solitude Park between October 3-5.

A spokesperson for Banbridge District Council said that the Council is “disappointed that the Oktoberfest event as proposed by the organiser, Mr Loy, and approved by Council back in June, is not now proceeding.

He said: “The Council had been working closely with the organiser to facilitate the practical arrangements for staging the event in Solitude Park and had recognised the potential positive impact that it could have had upon the town and district.”

He continued: “Banbridge District Council understands that the organiser has withdrawn his application for an Occasional Licence under the Licensing (Northern Ireland) Order, which would have been required to facilitate the sale of alcohol at the event. The Council has now been notified that the event has been cancelled.

“Banbridge District Council wishes to clarify that the cancellation of this event was not its decision. The event promoters took their own decision to cancel the event following their withdrawal of the application to the Court for a licence to sell alcohol; Banbridge District Council was not involved in this liquor licence application and the decision to withdraw it lay solely with the promoter’s.”

SDLP councillor Seamus Doyle said he was disappointed by the news. “I think there was far too much to do but I am hopeful that it will be organised for next year and the organiser will get the application in early. There is a lot of red tape and maybe he didn’t realise this.”

Councillor Brendan Curran expressed his disappointment at the failure by the organisers of the Oktoberfest to put together the event as initially proposed. The Sinn Féin Councillor said: “This event as it was presented to Council earlier in the year had the potential to create a carnival style atmosphere. In the format originally proposed it would have given patrons a culture experience and provided an opportunity to enjoy new and varied taste experiences.

“A festival event such as this would have acted as an attraction for the town and brought with it substantial commercial benefit to local traders.”

Mr Curran commented that it was unfortunate that the organiser was unable to put together the proposal originally brought to Council but he pointed out that in the circumstances the refusal of a liquor licence was only to be expected.

He said: “As the sale of various beers was a part of a wider programme of events the granting of a liquor licence was always dependant on that programme being delivered in its entirety.”

The Councillor asserted that while it was disappointing that this particular project had not lived up to its expectations the concept of a similar festival type event had potential.

He said: “The failure by the organisers to put together an Oktoberfest event is disappointing but does not alter the fact that there is merit in a similar cultural or multi-cultural event that would draw new shoppers into Banbridge.”

UUP Councillor Joan Baird said she welcomed the application for Oktoberfest being withdrawn and made clear that it had nothing whatsoever to do with the council.

“I voted against it because of a by law made some years ago that no alcohol is allowed in Solitude Park.

“This application was withdrawn by the applicant and the Council did not stop it,” she commented.

DUP Councillor Junior McCrum said he is glad the event has been cancelled.

“I don’t think it was the sort of thing Banbridge needed,” he said.

Mr McCrum said that the organiser’s original presentation to the council differed from what was actually being proposed.

“We were told it would be a family fun and food festival but at the end of the day it was just a beer festival”, he explained.