Volunteers overcome odds to secure future of annual Darlington beer festival

Pete Fenwick, of Mithril Ales raises a pint of Mowden First at the Darlington CAMRA Beer Festival

Pete Fenwick, of Mithril Ales raises a pint of Mowden First at the Darlington CAMRA Beer Festival

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Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Darlington)

A BEER festival that faced an uncertain future following the closure of its arts centre base has overcome the odds to host the first event in its new venue.

The future of the annual Darlington Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) Beer Festival was in doubt after the event’s former home - the town’s Arts Centre - succumbed to council cuts and shut its doors in July last year.

However, since the closure, volunteers have pulled out all the stops to ensure the festival continued and to secure its new home at The Northern Echo Arena, in Neasham Road, Darlington.

Chairman of the town’s Camra branch and co-organiser of the festival, Peter Everett, said: “When the Arts Centre closed we thought that would be the end.

“But luckily we have had a lot of hardworking volunteers who have pushed really hard to get it going again.

“This year’s festival is already steady away, it is going really well.”

Much of the festival’s nine ciders and 55 beers are from microbreweries from across the region, including Mowden First, a pale ale brewed by Aldbrough St John brewer, Pete Fenwick, to celebrate both the beer festival’s new home, and Mowden Park Rugby Club’s new home at The Northern Echo Arena.

Mr Fenwick, who brews under the name of Mithril Ales, said: “It is our first beer festival here with the rugby club, so it we wanted to mark the occasion.

“It was a shame what happened to the Arts Centre as we were so used to it. We have been looking since March for a new venue and were offered the arena as a one-off.

“It is a new venue and we will do everything we can to improve the festival and keep it going.”

The three-day event began yesterday (Thursday, August 1), and runs until 11.30pm tonight (Friday) and from 11.30am to 11.30pm tomorrow (Saturday, August 3).

Entry to the festival is £2, or free to Camra and Mowden Park RFC members on production of a valid membership card.

A shuttle bus provided by Darlington Sea Scouts between the town centre, Darlington railway station and the beer festival is running throughout the event. A suggested donation for the bus is £1 per journey.

For more information on the festival, go to darlocamra.org.uk

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