Angry pubs slam CAMRA World Cup beer festival

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Beer festival Campaign for real ale Camra

Harpenden Beer & Cider Festival: under fire from licensees
Harpenden Beer & Cider Festival: under fire from licensees
Licensees have criticised a local CAMRA branch for screening England's first World Cup game at a massive indoor beer festival.

Angry licensees have criticised a local Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) branch for screening England's first World Cup game at a massive indoor beer festival.

The licensees in Harpenden, near CAMRA's national HQ in St Albans, Hertfordshire, say the Harpenden Beer & Cider Festival will take business away from pubs. They questioned why CAMRA is getting involved in showing football.

The Festival takes place at the Harpenden Public Halls from Thursday 10 June until Saturday 12 June, when England play the USA in South Africa. Last year's event drew a crowd of 2,800 over two days.

"We had a pubwatch meeting yesterday and all the members agreed that it was going to have a negative effect on pubs," said Grant Hollier of the town's Plough & Harrow pub.

"We are saying that we support CAMRA because they support beer, but they are taking trade away from us."

Another licensee, who declined to be named, said: "CAMRA are calling it the biggest pub in Harpenden.

"They have put a big screen up and are competing directly with pubs, whereas we think they should be helping us. Everyone is up in arms.

"It's not the beer festival we object to. As far as we are concerned CAMRA has nothing to do with football."

John Bishop, publicity organiser for Harpenden and St Albans beer festivals, said he appreciated the licensees' concerns but pointed to the long-term benefits of promoting ale, and therefore pubs, that such festivals bring.

He said customers who don't drink ale won't attend the festival and are likely to visit local pubs instead.

Bishop added: "CAMRA exists to promote real ale and pubs, which is why we hold a beer festival in St Albans and Harpenden.

"At our first Harpenden Beer Festival last year, nearly 3,000 people went. It was well supported and brought a lot of new people to the town. That benefited local pubs; when I go to a beer festival I usually go to pub and have a pint first, or afterwards."

On the argument that beer festivals should show football, he replied: "Does that mean we don't have food? Does that mean we don't have a band?"

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