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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org.