Oak Bluffs selectmen tentatively approve second craft beer fest

With a 3-1 vote, the board approved a one-day beer and wine permit with a six-pack of strict conditions.

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Martha's Vineyard Craft Beer Festival organizer Oraibi Voumard speaks at Tuesday's Oak Bluffs selectmen's meeting. — Barry Stringfellow

Update 7/13:

The prospect of a second annual Martha’s Vineyard Craft Beer Festival overcame a major hurdle Tuesday night when Oak Bluffs selectmen approved the one-day beer and wine permit for the event. After a lengthy discussion, the board signed off with a laundry list of conditions that must be met by Aug. 22.

If organizer Oraibi Voumard, who representing the event before town boards while founder Erin Bayer Santos is on maternity leave, pays police detail fees, receives approval from the board of health, police department, fire department, and parks commission, caps ticket sales at 1,500 and provides a detailed site plan to selectmen’s satisfaction by August 22, the event will take place on the weekend of Sept. 22 at Waban-Alley Park, from 12:30 to 5:30 pm.

At the selectmen’s meeting on June 27, Mr. Voumard faced a fusillade of criticism from the board over last year’s craft beer festival, organized by Ms. Bayer Santos, which drew more people than expected, was short on portable toilets, food, and security detail, and failed to notify abutters until days before the event. Selectman Michael Santoro said it was “the most unorganized event this town has ever seen.”

Mr. Voumard’s presentation at the June 27 meeting fell well short of selectmen’s expectations.

On Tuesday night, Police Chief Erik Blake said his department had to go to court to get paid detail fees from last year’s festival, and would not sign off unless the fee was paid well ahead of time.

“I have a long history of managing companies; I’m a reputable businessman and I care about my reputation,” Mr. Voumard said. “The first thing I did was pay all those bills.”

In a telephone conversation with The Times on Thursday, Ms. Bayer Santos said last year’s bill for scheduled details was paid ahead of time, as well. The Martha’s Vineyard Craft Beer Festival paid for details added the day of the event after being billed by the police department, she said.

Tuesday night selectman Greg Coogan commended Mr. Voumard’s efforts since the last meeting. “There are obvious mistakes last year; I think you’ve addressed these concerns and I think you will continue to,” he said.

Selectman Gail Barmakian, who cast the dissenting vote, made her displeasure clear, particularly with Ms. Bayer Santos. “I think it’s really irresponsible that the promoter hasn’t shown at all,” she said. “There’s a bad track record, and she’s not here to answer for it. There are still things not addressed. I feel like I’m rewarding prior bad behavior. This [proposal] is coming too late. This should have been done a long time ago.”

Chief Blake said he’d only received the new plan an hour prior to the meeting, and needed time to evaluate it with Sgt. Michael Marchand. He said ID verification for the event needed further scrutiny, noting only two people checked IDs at the 2016 event, which created long lines and frustrated customers. “It’s a talent to check for fake IDs,” he said. “We need to make sure the proper people are in place.”

Chief Blake did, however, approve of the security company that Mr. Voumard had contracted.

Ms. Barmakian restated concerns about the decibel level created by the local bands and DJ that were slated to play.

“A big part of this event is communication between the vendor and the patron. We don’t want people shouting at each other,” Mr. Voumard said. “We’re not putting on a concert; that’s not the focal point.” He said there would be a person specifically dedicated to monitoring the noise level.

Mr. Voumard said he was planning for 2,000 people, but expected no more than 1,500. Last year, 1,200 people showed up; only 800 were anticipated.

Selectmen set a condition that the event have a maximum of 1,500 people, which includes the 200 to 300 people from various brewers working at the event.

Addressing last year’s food shortage, Mr. Voumard said there would be five food vendors, and that “400 pounds of carbs will be provided for free.”

Parks commissioner Amy Billings told the board that her department would play an active role in the planning, pending approval of the beer and wine permit. “I hope you trust us to do our job,” Ms. Billings said. “If the chief doesn’t sign off on August 22, that’s it.”

“I think [Mr. Voumard] has made a tremendous effort to address our concerns, and I think he will continue to work to make it right,” chairman Kathy Burton said.

Selectman Michael Santoro, attending via teleconference, abstained from the vote.

In other business, town administrator Robert Whritenour said the Island Theater had been made structurally safe, according to engineers who inspected the building last week. However, Mr. Whritenour said he was “extraordinarily disappointed” that the facade had not been painted, per the court order. He said he would consult town counsel about setting a drop-dead date for the painting.

In a joint meeting with the financial and advisory committee, selectmen approved a slate of transfers to end the fiscal year. Selectmen and finance committee members gave high praise to town accountant Deborah Potter, who stepped into the breach after town accountant Arthur Gallagher died unexpectedly last June.

Editor’s note: The story was updated to clarify who runs the event and how police details were paid.

1 COMMENT

  1. I would like to set a few things straight as the coverage on this event by the MV Times has been incorrect and under informed regarding the Martha’s Vineyard Craft Beer Festival. Mr. Stringfellow is telling only part of the story and in a way that I believe is unfair. I have not been contacted to date by Mr. Stringfellow for my input on these issues.

    1. As stated at the Board of Selectmen meetings I am on maternity leave. This is why Mr. Voumard has been appointed Event Controller and charged with representing the event’s interests at town meetings.

    2. The company producing the event is Brew Krew, llc of which I am sole proprietor. Mr. Voumard has been appointed Event Controller and is managing local government compliance of the event.

    3. All scheduled police, fire and ems detail were paid 30 days prior to last years event as required by each department. Detail is not dispatched to an event unless pre-paid. Outstanding amounts from 2016 for police and fire were a result of unscheduled add-on charges invoiced post event.

    4. Pulling together 64 breweries and 1000 attendees from all over the country to attend a 4 hour event on an island is no small feat. The amount of organization required to make this happen is extraordinary. I did the best I could for a first year event. To not have enough portapotties and food as the only major issues is a win as far as myself and many others were concerned.

    5. Upon speaking to past attending breweries about this year’s event we have encountered nothing but praise for last year’s event. They are happy to return and participate in this year’s event as they feel that it was a well run event in comparison to the many they have attended over the years. The Sam Adam’s representative said just today to me today that the 2016 MV Craft Beer Festival was the best event they attended that year. A compliment that is highly regarded as you can imagine how many they attend in the New England area each year.

    6. We have worked very hard to set solid policies and procedures around this year’s event to ensure a safe, well managed event for both local and incoming attendees to enjoy. Planning has been a team effort on behalf of Mr. Voumard and myself. We appreciate the town’s vigilance in requesting explicit detail regarding plans for event execution as it has afforded us the opportunity to fine tune our operation.

    7. The professional Security Team used for the 2016 MV Craft Beer Festival is the same team that provides security to Taste of the Vineyard. They were selected as I feel the Taste has a solid model for these types of events. I felt using the same team would provide adequate measures for our event. Chief Blake was unhappy with the detail provided so we have selected an outfit that has experience in working with OBPD this year.

    8. Notice to Abbutters was not a required part of a standard event application in 2016. It was requested by the park commissioners, as a courtesy, to inform abbutters of the event although there was no set deadline. The notices were mailed USPS return reciept certified mail and hand delivered to each door approximately 2 weeks before the event. Notice to abbutters was added to the special event application process in 2017 as a result of feedback from town residents. We have complied to the letter with the new procedure.

    9. In the Fall of 2015 The Town of Oak Bluffs Board of Selectmen asked me for more events in the off season. The goal was to attract tourism and give local folks more to enjoy on the island. I have delivered that, a sustainable Fall event that draws people from all around, as far as California, to attend. This event has the potential to be an annual staple in the island’s happenings. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to pull all of the pieces together to make this work. I am happy to put that effort in for folks to come, have a good time and boost the local economy in the off season. I would hope that on some level my efforts are appreciated and not demonized as the tone of coverage by the MV Times has implied.

    I would like to thank the Town of Oak Bluffs for preliminary approval of the 2017 Martha’s Vineyard Craft Beer Festival. We are looking forward to making good on what we have promised and producing a quality event for the community to enjoy.

    I invite the MV Times to inquire on the progress of the event should they like an accurate account of its development.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding this year’s Martha’s Vineyard Craft Beer Festival I can be reached at Erin@MVCraftBeer.com

    Cheers!

    Erin Bayer Santos
    Producer
    Martha’s Vineyard Craft Beer Festival

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