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Vintners Federation and organisers clash as Cork's Oktoberfest Beag is cancelled

The VFI and the festival’s organisers have exchanged conflicting statements about the cause of the cancellation.

THE CANCELLATION OF Cork’s popular Oktoberfest Beag festival has sparked a fractious exchange between the event’s organisers and the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland.

The German food and beer festival was due to kick off on Friday however, exactly a week before opening night, it was revealed that the event would not go ahead, with the organisers saying that it was scuppered because the VFI lodged an objection against its licence application.

That claim was refuted by the VFI Cork Committee which said that it had concerns about certain aspects of the event but those concerns were “satisfactorily addressed” during its discussions with Daryl Cronin, the organiser of Oktoberfest Beag.

The committee’s statement added that it had wished Cronin luck with the event and it was disappointed that it was not proceeding. 

Second statements

This response inspired a lengthy rebuttal from Oktoberfest Beag which said that the VFI’s Cork Secretary, Michael O’Donovan, told the organisers that publicans were unhappy that the festival had grown too big.

Originally two days long, the festival grew into a six day event during the nine years it took place in Cork city centre. 

The statement added detail about the VFI’s concerns, including questions about the strength of the beer being served at the festival.

“The strength of the beer was another concern however our pouring beers are the same responsible ABV strength they are pouring in all their members premises,” Oktoberfest Beag said.

The statement also claimed that O’Donovan said to Cronin that the “VFI always win” and that it only withdrew its concerns after the event was cancelled.

“Up until 4pm his (O’Donovan’s) objection had not been withdrawn and due to significant risks possibly for all involved and fair notice that must be given to ticket holders to adjust their travel plans, the difficult decision was jointly taken by the festival and sponsors to cancel the event and inform all contractors immediately,” the statement continued.

Contractors trucks were loaded and planned to arrive on site from throughout Ireland and the UK that following day so informing them was a top priority.

 This response drew a reply of its own as the VFI took issue with many of the claims in Oktoberfest Beag’s statement.

It began with O’Donovan “emphatically” denying that he said that “the VFI always wins” and went on to list eight other points about the statement that it wanted to address. 

“Daryl (Cronin) claims the event was cancelled because the VFI refused to issue a letter of support. We find it staggering that the decision to proceed with a large-scale event was dependent on such a letter, which was requested just one week prior to the start of Oktoberfest Beag,” the VFI said.

It’s important to mention how unusual it is for a licence application for a large-scale event to be made one week before opening day. Normally applications are made to the courts six to 10 weeks prior to the event taking place.

This story will be updated if either the organisers of Oktoberfest Beag or the VFI issue any more statements about the calcellation of the festival.  

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Ceimin Burke

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