Chronicle photographers Alistair Brightman and Nat Bromhead capture the fun of the Pub Fest
Chronicle photographers Alistair Brightman and Nat Bromhead capture the fun of the Pub Fest

Venues see value in Pub Fest

AS HANGOVERS recede, pub owners are counting costs and evaluating the financial benefits of the Pub Fest.

Carriers Arms Hotel manager Gary Gilbert said his venue alone paid more than $10,000 in wages for bar staff.

“We had about 55 or 60 people working shifts, so the flow-on effect adds up,” Mr Gilbert said.

As well as bar staff and kitchen hands, each participating pub had to pay for a police officer and security guards to keep an eye on the crowd – which Mr Gilbert said added up to several thousand dollars an hour.

“We took an awful lot of money in, but we've put a lot back out too,” he said.

Mr Gilbert said while the crowds started slowly, the event soon picked up pace.

“Once they got going, they were all over the place. While people stay happy and are enjoying themselves, I don't see any reason to cancel it,” he said.

“It's not only the pubs that benefit, but the hairdressers I spoke with had had girls getting booked in for spray tans, nails and hair, and the costume shops will have been flat out.”

Clay Clayton, owner of the Post Office and Criterion hotels, said the day's takings were still being calculated but he believed the amount spent would be on par with last year.

“They might not have had as many (entrance cards) handed in, but people were still spending,” Mr Clayton said.

“Around 6pm, Wharf St got so busy that we had to stop letting people in, and that might have stopped them getting their cards in.”

One of the event's most outspoken supporters, Mr Clayton said there was no cause for concern with patrons' behaviour.

“Everyone was behaving themselves,” he said.

To say thank you to his hard-working staff, he threw a barbecue on Wharf St yesterday afternoon.

Westside Tavern manager Judy Rudolph said she had no idea how many people poured through the doors, but her staff were left feeling like they had won a marathon.

“It was fantastic; everything just flowed,” Ms Rudolph said.

From talking with other publicans and people who had been in town, Ms Rudolph said she believed more people had been served at the Tinana pub than at some of the CBD establishments.

“Everyone was in a great frame of mind, and even God was looking after us with the weather,” she said.

“The staff enjoyed it but we're all knackered.”

While Ms Rudolph said she loved the concept of the Pub Fest and it was certainly a money-spinner, she believed the actual event had become over-regulated.

“It's too much bureaucracy,” she said.

“I had the smoking inspectors in three times and I don't know how many times the liquor licensing inspectors were in here – but everyone was on good behaviour.”

The increase in regulations seemed like overkill to Ms Rudolph, who said her staff were highly professional at all times.

“We uphold the law every day of the year, including Good Friday and Christmas Day which are the only two days we don't open,” she said.

“Our mindset is no different on Pub Fest than any other day.”

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