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Craft beer event goes flat at fairgrounds

Organizers say 'unruly' behavior was behind the shutdown. Fairgrounds officials say organizers were not 'readily responsive' to 'operating deficiencies.'

October 22, 2013|By Bradley Zint

Orange County Fairgrounds officials canceled the second session of a weekend beer-tasting event because of "unruly" attendees earlier in the day, event organizers said Monday.

But in a prepared statement, fairgrounds officials countered that they shut down the Ultimate Beerfest OC session Saturday because its promoter and show manager, Karma Media Group, was not "readily responsive" to "operating deficiencies."

The deficiencies, officials said, were inadequate staffing levels at vendor booths and checkpoints, excessive consumption and not following necessary beverage-management protocols.

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"Accordingly, OC Fair & Event Center management made a decision to cancel Session Two, due to Alcohol Beverage Control guideline considerations and patron safety concerns," according to the statement.

The Ultimate Beerfest OC, which purports to pair "regional craft brewers with craft beer lovers," was to be a fundraiser for Villa Chardonnay, a nonprofit horse rescue facility based in Temecula.

The first session went from about noon to 3 p.m. The second session was planned for 6 to 9 p.m.

By about 3:30 p.m., however, Karma Media Group notified the second session's would-be participants via email that it was canceled because of "attendee misconduct."

"We will work with you to resolve all your issues within the next few days," the email read. "We are very sorry! Please do not show up at the OC Fair & Event Center today! Thank you!"

Some people reportedly showed up for the second session anyway, saying they had not received the message. Many expressed their frustration afterward online. Fairgrounds officials said they handed out fliers at gate locations and broadcast the news using electronic signage. 

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