Hmmm, so according to the Manchester Evening news Saddleworth Beerwalk has been cancelled. For those who don't know the Beerwalk is an annual event held on the Saturday following the famous Whit Friday Band Contests (See the film Brassed Off). The idea of the Beerwalk is for people to walk around a preset route between pubs, having a drink at each and collecting money for charity on the way. Of course it's all done in fancy dress with prizes for the best dressed etc. And despite it's long history this year it has been cancelled. Unfortunately it isn't hard to see why. In this day and age (Yes, that makes me sound old but just read newspaper headlines, or even try to buy a beer...) an event where the idea is to drink beer could only be frowned upon. Yes, it is the irresponsible minority who spoil it for everyone else, just like at football events, but you see the idea behind football is the football, not the drinking ten cans of beer.
Police costs are cited as the reason behind the cancellation, and it isn't hard to believe, the same reason was used when they tried to cancel the Whit Friday celebrations a few years ago. Police are expensive. Roads need to be closed and with so many drunken people walking around you need a lot of policemen to keep it flowing. Then there's the cleaning up costs. After walking around collecting for charity most people don't use refuse facilities. Last year there was also an increased number of health and safety officals on the course. In particular at the topof Lark Hill.
But let's for a moment talk about the fun. The walking in the sun, the effort people put into their costumes and let's not forget the £45,000 collected for charities (I'm told that figure by those fighting the cancellation). And there's the fact it attracts tourists to the area. It's not just Whit Friday, it's the Whit Weekend! It's important not to forget the local shops. True the beerwalkers don't really use them (except the takeaways) but there are plenty of spectators who do. Now arguably these people would be in Saddleworth for the weekend anyway, what with Whit Friday and all, but I'm sure a fair few are there to witness the spectale that is the beerwalk.
Over the last few years the event has been more strictly monitored to make sure that the people participating are paying customers but that doesn't stop the freeriders walking around and drinking their own beer. These people are obviously not partaking in the charity portion of the event, just the drinking. Then of course it does tend to get more than a little unruly, especially after Delph. Hence the police.
It is a cultural event, yes it will be sadly missed, but I for one can't see them letting it go ahead. Even if it is for charity it doesn't seem to fit in a society being told to 'drink responsibly'. So, I think the sun has maybe set on a 'Beerwalk' so the question now is; what shall we replace it with? Charity and costumes open all sorts of avenues. And not having 'beer' in an event's name doesn't mean you can't drink. How about a fancy dress beer festival? No? I'll leave the ideas to you