In our last (on-line) magazine we reminisced about the Olden Days, thinking it might be fun to share some of our memories before the planned 32nd Ulverston Festival, before we found ourselves with lockdowns and restrictions which stopped that from taking place. We told you that the first festival our branch held was actually in 1983! The first two were held in the Coro', but we moved to the Rydal Suite in the Civic Hall in Barrow in 1985. The festival was held there for a few years until the Civic Hall was closed to be redeveloped into Forum 28.
Where did we go to next? We couldn't use Barrow Town Hall - there's a parquet floor there and beer spillage wouldn't do that any good! The Travellers Rest Club (next to Cookes and the Duke of Edinburgh in Abbey Road - long gone now) became our home for a couple of years, then Eddysons off Cornwallis Street, and Geronimos nightclub next to the rugby ground. One year we held a "cider only" festival in a Barrow pub - but no-one can remember which one! (This was the first ever cider only event held by CAMRA.) We then returned to the Coro' where we've been ever since. It's been suggested that we might return to Barrow, but there are no suitable venues, certainly with good public transport links close by.
We've had three Festival Organisers over the years - Graham Donning from the start (although he remembers Pete Morgan - a former branch chairman, who moved over the East Coast and opened a micro pub on Hartlepool Station - covering for him one year) until 2006 when Lou Lewis took over. He "retired" after our 2017 Festival with Dave Wilson taking over completely in 2018.
The Festival has had a number of names over the years. It started as the Furness Beer Festival (with cider being added at some point!) and changed to the Ulverston Beer and Cider Festival in 2015. Since we moved back to the Coro' we've been connected in some way to Ulverston Charter Week with our final day traditionally being on the Saturday. Until 2014, our souvenir glasses referred to Charter Week in the artwork.
For the last few years volunteers have worn bright orange "Team Tango" t-shirts - this means that visitors know who to talk to if they have any questions about beer, cider, membership or CAMRA in general.
We haven't had music for a couple of years - we found that if we had a really good band everyone got and danced and didn't drink the beer! (And the bar staff had difficulty hearing what was being requested by the non-dancers….) Graham Donning remembers singing A Walk on the Wild Side with the then landlord of the Bay Horse at Canal Foot at the first Festival in the Coro' but no one else remembers being part of the entertainment - well, not deliberately! A lot of folk will remember the year the fire alarm in the Coro' went off. We had to evacuate the building whilst waiting for Fire and Rescue to attend. Neil (who is one of our bar managers) was then an active member of Ulverston Fire and Rescue Service (with Glaxo) and he waited for the tender to arrive rather than go to the station - we lost lots of customers and the town pubs ended up with lots of our glasses!
Hopefully future Festivals will create happy memories for our visitors and our volunteers. Fingers crossed that they will be bigger and better - roll on September 2021!