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Big Brew Beer Festival Offers Apology, Refunds

Organizer says 'long and cold line delays' kept some paying customers from attending inaugural event.

The organizer of Saturday's Big Brew Beer Festival at the National Guard Armory in Morristown has posted an apology for "long and cold line delays" that kept some paying customers from attending the inaugural event.

Allison Kohler, the second generation owner of JMK Shows and Events, said Tuesday a "technological nightmare" involving malfunctioning ticket-scanning equipment caused major delays at the entrance on Saturday evening.

There also was a shortage of restrooms and inadequate communication to those waiting outside, JMK wrote in a message posted on the event website.

Kohler said people who did not use their tickets and who write to the organizers should be refunded by Friday. Some of the people who were waiting outside did not have tickets and were waiting to see if they would be able to get in, she said.

The event Facebook page was taken down after a deluge of negative comments that were abusive, not productive and in some cases not true, Kohler said. Some attendees and volunteers have posted comments about their experiences at the event on Morristown Patch.

She said JMK is a reputable management company that's been around for 41 years and they are working to make things right.

Despite the setbacks, many people enjoyed the event once inside, which featured live music by The Nerds and a wide range of beers and food.

"At least 2,000 people got to enjoy that and had a great time," including all 500 VIP ticket holders, Kohler said.

She said everyone worked hard on the event. While their focus is on addressing issues from this event, future festivals would feature a heated smoking lounge and portable trailers with bathrooms.

"We'll do right, and we'll do better next time," she said.

Six paid servers and around 28 volunteers assisted personnel from the distributors and breweries at the event, Kohler said. (Correction: An earlier version of this story said six paid staff and around 28 volunteers were running the event.) She said they are not sure how much money will need to be refunded.

Toward the end of the event, tickets were accepted without being checked and are being sent to the ticket equipment company to see whose tickets were turned in. Those who write in about having to wait in long lines could be eligible for reduced price tickets to future events, but those cases will be handled on an individual basis, Kohler said.

Kohler said there were no problems with fights or disorderly conduct which she credited to security that was in place, including Morris Township police.

The apology is below:

OUR APOLOGIES
We would like to apologize to everyone for the poor experience regarding entrance to the beer festival as well as the lack of adequate bathroom facilities. At no time did we attempt to oversell nor understaffed the event. We also apologize for lack of communication with you all as you waited in line. That was not acceptable on our part and we strongly feel we owe you all a detailed explanation. We had a complete failure of our computer barcode scanning system, which led us to have to manually input each ticket. We never anticipated this type of computer failure. We had eleven staff members working the entrance as we moved as many people as possible to try and help input everyone as fast as humanly possible. We eventually sped things up by not inputting their tickets and just letting people hand in their tickets, but it was already too late. We admit we were slow to act on this and should have taken this action as soon as there was a line delay.

The restroom situation was a big miscalculation on our part. We completely overlooked this and apologize to those who had to wait on lines. It could have been easily remedied with portable toilets outside. Please know that we do care and understand how you feel. We worked very hard organizing this event. Please also know that many people who did come in had a great time, enjoying an incredible display of craft beer along with all of the fun and exciting music, food, vendors and events which we organized. However we regret not everyone enjoyed this same experience and for this we are sorry. We will be offering a full refund to anyone who's ticket was unused at the event. Please email us at bigbrewbeerfest@aol.com with your name and ticket information and a refund will be credited to you within 7-10 business days. We will only be handling this via email, which will be the fastest most efficient method.

For those of you that experienced long and cold line delays but somehow stuck it out and managed to attend the festival, please also email us at bigbrewbeerfest@aol.com and we promise we will try to do our best to make things up to you in the future. As with any new venture mistakes are made and lessons learned. We are not scammers or a fly by night operation. In fact we have grown up in this area and look to provide fun and entertainment to those in the community along with raising money for a local charity. We would also like to thank everyone who attended for staying orderly and hopefully had a great time. We would also like to thank all the breweries, distributors, vendors, The Nerds, the Morris Township Police Department, as well as the Morristown Armory staff. Again, we feel terrible that not everyone was able to enjoy our event in the same way or as they had planned

For any related inquiries, please contact us at: bigbrewbeerfest@aol.com.

MORRISTOWN ROTARY February 19, 2013 at 07:35 PM
If you want a great event.. Buy tickets for the 11th Annual TASTE OF MORRISTOWN set for Monday March 4, 2013 6-9pm showcasing 40 great restaurants/providers of the Morristown area PLUS wine tasting, Scotch/spirit tasting and beer tasting. all for charitable causes sponsred by Morristown rotary Club at Hanover Marriott. .For details check out www.tasteofmorristown.org
Area 51 February 20, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Only 6 paid staff??? There's the problem right there. Pay the other 28 and you'll get a better run event. Kohler is pocketing everything.
Bob February 20, 2013 at 01:05 PM
It's called getting JERZEY'D!! Customers spend their hard-earned money with good faith that we won't get ripped off, only to get hosed by scammers looking to make a fortune by cutting corners. These scammers don't go away, they'll be back at a different venue under a new name stealing from new victims. No wonder everyone's leaving this state.
Eric B February 20, 2013 at 01:11 PM
"At least 2,000 people got to enjoy that and had a great time," including all 500 VIP ticket holders, Kohler said. I had an okay time because they had a lot of breweries at the festival. However, the VIP lounge was a sham. It didn't exist.
Mary February 20, 2013 at 01:16 PM
i take offense to Area 51's response. I worked my tail off. I never once stopped pouring beer - at times pouring with both hands at the same time. I never left my post, never went to the bathroom from 3-8:30, never saw the band, the other stations, never ate .... I was never checked on and never thanked. I was left on my own even though when I signed up I was told that the beer would be put on ice for me, and refilled and all I had to do was pour beer with another volunteer; and we could take breaks to walk around the event as long as one person was left at the table ... NOT ONE PORTION OF THAT WAS TRUE. I was left by myself, with sealed cases of beer that I had to open with a bottle opener, there was melted ice in a tub with maybe a case of beer on ice - the other 10-12 cases were sealed on the floor. Allison might be giving an apology to save face to the customers ... but she was disrespectful to the people that offered their time to help a worthy cause. The pictures you see are stations where there are 2-3 people behind the beer was NOT what we volunteers had .... we were left by ourselves NOT with help. So don't blame us for what JMK failed to do.
Mary February 20, 2013 at 01:19 PM
oh and the VIP lounge ??? what was that? All we volunteers did was serve them earlier. they entered and were served the exact same way the regular customers were served. that was 100% a money making scam
Tricia Maguire February 20, 2013 at 02:01 PM
Totally agree Eric!
Jake Remaly (Editor) February 20, 2013 at 03:23 PM
There were six paid servers and around 28 volunteers who assisted personnel from the distributors and breweries at the event, the event organizer says. An earlier version of this story said six paid staff and around 28 volunteers were running the event.
Griz719 February 20, 2013 at 08:28 PM
Let’s take a deep breath… The organizer has apologized and owned up to many of the complaints. Hindsight being what it is I am sure next year will be much better. I have been to complete debacles of events, complained and never received even the slightest apology. To their credit, this show promoter (that pretty much does only antique shows by the website) tried (and failed) to bring something new to Morristown. Perhaps biting off more than they could chew and completely underestimated the response, but they at least tried. If you have never failed like this in your life, it’s only because you have not tried. They took a risk and dropped the ball. But let’s stop with the victim routine. We were wronged for several hours on Saturday night and that’s JMK’s fault. It’s Wednesday and you are still feeling the victim?... That’s on you. I’m glad they are learning from their mistakes and are making plans for next year. I am guessing it will be much more thought out and better planned which in turn should make it a success. JMK have admitted the failure. Must we keep piling on? The horse has stopped breathing, stop kicking it and get on with your lives. I accept JMK’s apology and I look forward to next year…
Motown Gentleman February 21, 2013 at 01:16 PM
Ummm, JMK will not be hosting this next year, I can already assure you that. My company is already in negotiations. We run the Atlantic City one each year. JMK is a family run joke. Save that nonsense for plumbing supply shops.
Liz Adinaro February 21, 2013 at 01:37 PM
Are you planning on having it at the Morristown Armory, or elsewhere?
SerenityNow February 22, 2013 at 12:36 AM
Motown G, you do not run the AC fest. The fella who runs it is named Jon and he lives down there not in morristown. Story teller big time
Liz Adinaro February 23, 2013 at 08:29 PM
Just to clarify, This is the picture of the VIP area, where Morris Tap & Grill had supplied all of the food. So sorry, you never made it in to try everything.. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=556506037712958&set=a.556506024379626.129215.229384747091757&type=1&theater&notif_t=photo_comment

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