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A Winter's Ale

What a difference a year makes. Last year, after many months of hard work by the festival committee, at the last minute, it was discovered that we were going to be unable to use our regular venue, the Kingsway Hall in Dovercourt, for the arranged Beer Festival and after much head scratching and brainstorming it was decided that with regret the 2015 Harwich & Dovercourt Winter Ale Festival would have to be cancelled, not a decision taken lightly but unfortunately it was out of our hands.

Thankfully the local publicans came to the rescue who held the first Harwich Ale Trail, organised and put on by the Landlords and Landladies of Harwich and Dovercourt, this proved to be a wonderful success.

Step forward a few months and we had been offered a new venue for the festival. The owners of the Parkeston Railway Club kindly offered us their venue, Members of the Committee visited the premises and thought it would be ideal for our purposes. Again the festival committee put in many months of hard work in preparation, and in view of the position of the Railway Club, it was decide to rename the festival the Harwich & Parkeston Winter Ale Festival 2016. The theme chosen for this yearwas 70 years since the decommissioning of HMS Badger - the wartime name for Parkeston Quay.

Opening the doors on the first day of the festival was like a step into the unknown, would people be prepared to travel to the new location, what would they think of the new venue? We needn't have worried, it was a good feeling to see so many of the faces that have supported us in the past, making the effort to come out and support us once again and whilst I cannot speak for everyone, the feedback that I received from the people that I spoke to, was very encouraging. People seemed to like the new venue and we received very positive feedback on the range of beers that we had on offer, so a lot of thanks must go to the sub-committee who chose this years beers.

We were also pleased that the majority of our visitors enjoyed the entertainment that was laid on for the Friday and Saturday, as we know, not everybody is keen on music at beer festivals. We also received a great number of compliments regarding the standard of food available which ranged from the usual burgers etc. to good hearty food such as Liver & Bacon with Mash. As the first couple of days were quite cold I think this was very much appreciated by customers and volunteers alike.

So while we thank the festival committee for their hard work and dedication in making sure the festival went ahead, out biggest thanks must go to the many visitors whose unwavering support helped to make this festival the success it was and we look forward to seeing you all again next year.

By Derek Birchall