The annual County Show is a big deal in Orkney - many people come 'home for the shows', lots of folk visit specially for the weekend every year.
The end of the show officially* marks the end of summer here in Orkney. Winter starts on Sunday. It's not just about animals and machinery though, most local businesses will have a presence at the show and in 2014 we did too.
In partnership with Thistly Cross Cider we had a reasonably sized (some said too reasonably sized) tent serving Swannay beer and Scottish cider. Credit to Luke at Thistly Cross for doing most of the legwork, it was a good setup we had. It was by no means a big money maker but the value in being at the show was seeing the people who drink our beer do it right before us and having a good chat with them when they were doing so. We felt connected to the community and proud to see our beer being enjoyed locally.
Personally I don't think our Swannay beer and the cold Scottish cider detracted much from the 'main' beer tent at the show that year but alas we weren't at the show in 2015 (the tent was pretty big, I suppose). We had the option of a pitch in 2016 but could not pull it together in time so we missed another year. Surely, with a year's notice, we'd pull it off in 2017?!
The year started well, grand plans were written, goals were set. But the day-to-day takes up hours, weeks and months and before we knew it time was again short. We bought a tent (not an insignificant spend), we arranged a bar, we asked some people to be bar tenders, and we even got a licence. But then, a few weeks out, a problem with the licence, we'd need to reapply.
The standard timeframe for applying for the licence had passed but there was a possibility we could be granted one just in time if everything lined up. Do we take the risk and apply, knowing we might not know the outcome until very close to show date, or do we concede and miss another year.
Probably due to a lack of resources as opposed to being risk averse we (I) decided not to reapply for the licence. Thus, we're once again not at County Show this year :-(
I wanted to write this blog because I feel I've let people down. We were very pleased to be given the opportunity to pour our beer at the show (thanks Anne and Inga) for the reasons above - seeing folk enjoy our beer locally and in some ways being able to thank them for their support. I know that everyone at the brewery was looking forward to working the bar and people I spoke to were looking forward to drinking at the other side of it.
There's one small consolation in that we've heard the 'main' beer tent will be serving bottles of Island Hopping and Scapa Special this year. Have a good show folks, I hope we'll make it back sometime.
*unofficially. But the nights fairly draw in after the shows...