In Fall 2013, Jamie, Laura, and I came together with the goal of making a difference in the Columbus craft beer community in an effort to give back to the community in a meaningful way. We wanted to promote breweries that didn’t have the experience or the knowledge or the time to find their audience. We wanted to educate the community on the amazing options that were available to them right here in the Columbus area. Most importantly, we wanted to show everyone a great time while drinking some great beers. Now, in February 2016, our mission is still the same…and that’s why we need to revamp the way we do things, starting now.
Hullabaloo is Dead…
From the beginning, our flagship event has been the High Gravity Hullabaloo. We wanted to give you something better than the other beer fests we’d been to, where you are squeezed into a massive crowd, waiting in long lines for beers you could find at your local gas station in an effort to get hammered before you run out of necklace pretzels — the only food you’re likely to get. We wanted to give the people who really cared about local craft beer a better option, one where crowds were small enough that you could try whatever you wanted without waiting in line, where you could mingle with the brewers and get to know them and their brands, where you could try delicious beers actually made in your community.
We think we did a damn good job pulling this off. For my money, the three Hullabaloos we’ve put on have consistently been among the best, if not THE best, beer events in Columbus. We’ve highlighted, and in a few cases debuted, young and upcoming local breweries we have all come to love. We’ve introduced brewers to their local fans and helped facilitate lasting relationships. We’ve grown every year and brought in more and better beers in the process.
But the people have spoken and it’s not been good enough. Although we believe this year’s Hullabaloo was our best planned and best executed event ever, we’ve gotten complaint after complaint after complaint during the event and ever since. The beer list wasn’t exclusive enough…but tickets were too expensive (good beer costs money and the vast majority of our budget pays for that beer). The food didn’t taste good enough…but people didn’t get to eat as much of it as they wanted to. There weren’t enough games to entertain people…but no one wanted to touch the ones we provided. There wasn’t enough (free) bottled water. The DJ’s speakers weren’t in the optimal position. We’ve been sworn at, shouted at, asked for money back, insulted, and thanks to one fellow, threatened multiple times with physical harm. Enough.
We’re three people who have no serious event planning experience who are juggling day jobs and kids along with all of this. We’ve put in countless hours and dollars and hectic days and sleepless nights planning these things, and we don’t make a dime off of any of it. We’re a non-profit, and we don’t keep any of the proceeds for ourselves. Even though the majority of people had a great time, and many of you have been kind enough to tell us so, the complainers have just gotten too entitled and too nasty and too numerous for us to block out, especially when we are doing this for free. We realize a few things didn’t go as planned, namely food running out around 9:00 p.m. (does everything go perfectly at any beer fest?) and we feel bad about that, but honestly we believe it was still a fantastic event. It was the best we can do, and if our very best effort results in this much negative backlash, then it’s time to do something different to achieve our goals. We’re moving on. Hullabaloo is officially dead.
…But the CCBA is Alive and Well.
This does not mean the CCBA is dead, however. We’re already hard at work coming up with ways to achieve our goals more effectively. We’re talking to breweries and other craft beer groups about holding some really cool special events that I know you’ll love. We’re teaming up with Columbus Girls’ Pint Out to bring you a (co-ed) beer and charcuterie pairing at Giant Eagle Market District Grandview Yard on March 10. Our March Beer and Donuts is already sold out, and we’re in conversations with Hoof Hearted and Seventh Son about April and May Beer and Donuts. We’re hoping to beef up our blog to create a better forum for Columbus craft beer lovers to read about and discuss the local craft beer issues they care about. The Summer Session is set for August 20 and will hopefully continue to have the same laid-back, friendly atmosphere it has had in the past. Just last week, we had a meeting with the organizer of one of Columbus’ oldest and most respected beer events discussing ways we could help revamp and reinvigorate the event. And we’ll come up with something creative and fun to replace the Hullabaloo–we know what Hullabaloo fans like and we’ll work to tap into those qualities, but in innovative new ways.
This isn’t the end for us, but part of our new beginning. We are not stopping in our efforts to promote Central Ohio craft breweries or to get great local beers into great local faces. We’re merely pivoting in a new direction, finding more effective ways to accomplish our goals. I know many of you will be sorry to see Hullabaloo go, but trust us; I think we’ll find new ways to show you a great time.
I invite each of you to reach out to us and tell us how you think we can achieve our goals in the best way possible, because ultimately this has always been about you and not about us. Thank you for your continued support.
12 hours of Hullabaloo set up, fun and tear down in a quick 35 seconds.