When I am not at my paid employment or downing non-alc drinks for your/our benefit, I am the coordinator of a lovely fringe festival based here in Port Fairy, the Port Fairy Winter Weekends. A committee of 12 passionate volunteers coordinate and deliver over 130 events aimed at keeping locals and visitors entertained and happy during the cold winter months. As a tourist town business rely on visitors to keep them going year round and our calendar of events over four weekends in June and July really helps keep that vibrancy going.
One thing we have always done as a way of fundraising for the festival is to run a small bar at relevant events, all proceeds going back into the festival coffers. One thing I have always done is volunteer at said bar and run on a ‘one-for-you, one-for-me’ type system. I see now this was far from ideal. But this year I am determined to make up for downed mulled wine.
What sort of alcohol-free activist would I BE, if I didn’t include an offering other than our traditional bottled water for my first sober festival? But herein lies a dilemma, in offering non-alc wine and beer for the first time, I am NERVOUS. I am seeing things from the other side of the bar for the first time. I am catching a first-hand glimpse of the reluctance that venues have to putting alcohol free on their menus. WHAT IF NO ONE BUYS ANY?? And I have no real skin in the game. Thanks to generous sponsorship from Heaps Normal and Plus & Minus, the festival has nothing to lose financially if we don’t sell all the bubbles and beer. But ahead of our first bar this weekend I am definitely feeling a little nervous. And I really believe in this stuff. So this experience is giving me a little perspective on how challenging it can be for venues to change their mindsets.
Which is why communication from us, the consumer is so important. It’s having these discussions with your publican. It’s asking for BYO and then following up with more info should you get rejected. We the non-drinkers have the power to ask for change and the more noise we collectively make, the more we will be heard.
If you’d like tips and tricks from a hardened veteran, head to The Squeaky Wheel part of my website. There are loads of resources there, and if you haven’t already, please sign the petition to show the demand is real.
Wish me luck selling up a storm!