Saturday, May 13, 2006

Screwed The Pooch: Oversold Long Island Beer Festival Disappoints Many

The Long Island Beer Festival was held on Friday evening at the Huntington Hilton. It was supposed to be an all you can eat and drink evening for $45 a ticket, with proceeds going to North Shore Animal League - but many were left with a sour taste.

Throngs of beer and food lovers descended on the Hilton only to find a long line snaking through the filled parking lot. Many were forced to park at an unmarked neighboring hotel facility. As this was not a Hilton property, those that were directed to park there received parking tickets.

Tickets were not properly checked at the door to match the name on the pre-sold ticket with the bearer. The ball room quickly filled and surpassed its capacity for comfort, and then past its capacity for safety.

After waiting on a long line to get in, festival goers crammed in to a the Hilton's grand ballroom, filling it with wall to wall people and creating a fire hazard. The all-you-can-eat food ran out before many festival goers even made it through the door. Beer was also difficult to obtain and was issued in small sample cups. Many vendors ran out of cups and garbage cans overflowed on to the crowded floor.

A number of ticket holders asked to speak to the man in charge, but were told by festival volunteers and Hilton employees that "Stuart" was nowhere to be found. Stuart is most likely an employee, manager or otherwise associated with Shoreline Beverage, which organized the event.

Many festival goers did not even get through the doors. Paying ticket holders were turned away after officials intervened, concerned that there were too many people inside.

The festival was supposed to last until 10 PM, but at 8:45 the fire department closed down the event due to the hazardous overcrowding of the ballroom. Some festival goers were then told to email the organizers to receive free admittance to next years event. Many want refunds and are unlikely to attend future Shoreline events.

The real victim or victims here are not the festival goers, but North Shore Animal League, a not for profit organization that is unlikely to see much of the money that was supposed to have been raised.

This was more bitter than any beer.

Photos of line and crowd (click for larger views):
Tail end of the line
The line
The line
Inside the beer festival
Inside the beer festival
Beer Festival Map: Line Outside Hilton



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