It’s been a few months now, but since it was a completely new experience I’ll tell you about it anyway. Together with the guys from Homebrewers Gorizia we decided to try a new adventure: participating as exhibitors at Gusti di Frontiera 2022.
It is a food and drinks event that for 17 years has been held in Gorizia and that over the years has grown more and more until this year, despite the unfavorable weather, that reached the presence of over 400 stands and according to the organizers more than 500 thousand visitors. The event extends throughout the city center that for the occasion is closed to traffic and organized in villages that gather exhibitors of various nationalities and regions (I leave you below the map of this edition published by the organizers on https://gustidifrontiera.it/it/). The stands offer mainly food and drink (both on-site cooking and ready-made products) but there are also stands of objects typical of the various nations.
The adventure began long before the event, following a meeting of the Homebrewers Gorizia executive who decided to try to participate. Among the members began immediately a collection of adhesions creating a group of 12 people who would have participated more or less actively.
Meanwhile, our president had already moved to inquire about registration and participation costs. We found ourselves a little in difficulty with the fee to be paid as we did not immediately understand that for the Associations these were different than commercial activities. Having clarified our doubts, we sent the application form, and we ordered a custom 3×3 gazebo from RayBot webshop.
Meanwhile in the chat staff started the debate on how many and what beers to have available. Since it was the first edition and we were already inexperienced enough we decided not to look for solutions to distribute our beers but to promote local breweries that did not have their own booth at the event. Some of us had already asked for availability and the choice was quite fast: Birrificio Bondai from Sutrio and Birrificio Campestre from Corno di Rosazzo. The beers were also selected quite quickly, although they were later changed due to the availability of equipment and beers themselves.
They were also joined by The Lure brewery, which despite having its own stand provided us with some Pimpa kegs, the Pale Ale that won the 2021 edition of the homebrewing contest Homebrewers Gorizia X The Lure that had as first prize the production of the winning beer at the brewery. So in the end we also had our own beer available without any complications. In total we had available over 1000 liters of beer (maybe a little bit too much, I don’t deny it).
About prices instead we decided to talk directly with the breweries that have already attended the event and that gave us advice perfectly in line with each other. At this point it was enough to work a little on the PC and our menu artwork was ready.
Some might think that it was done, but instead there was still a mountain of work to do. The main problem was understanding, since we are a non-profit association, how to properly manage the sales legally. This took a lot of phone calls and visits to commercial and IRS offices, but we clarified all the doubts.
Me and the president of Homebrewers Gorizia started to organize all the logistics, tasks of each of us and shifts for stand setup and service according to the availability of the staff. Alas there have been many problems in organizing people mainly due to availability indicative and not accurate, even to the point of having to stop people in the chat for too angry discussions. But with a lot of patience we managed to plan everything by organizing it in a spreadsheet lists of activities, shifts and availability. I will not deny that for an event of this size synchronize the work of 12 people who do not give precise indications about the availability and activities to do was not easy at all.
Meanwhile, the organizers had communicated the exact location of our stand and provided information on how to request passes to enter with the car inside the event area (activity allowed only at well-defined times). Even the gazebo was delivered and we could start thinking about how to set it up definitively. In this regard, the municipality also provided us with a regulation that indicated specific rules such as ballasting the gazebo, certifying the electrical system or protecting the road surface with appropriate flooring.
While we were waiting for information about the electrical connection from the organizers, the President and I moved to get insurance for the event and the necessary authorizations for playing music inside the gazebo.
While everyone was carrying out the tasks assigned to them (supplies, fittings, consumables, etc.) we received the indications about the electrical connection. For this activity our member Max proposed himself and followed it from beginning to end, managing to organize the installation of a certified electrical system.
Regarding the stand Giulio, the brewer of Birrificio Campestre, has provided us with the mail tap line and counter while Luca, the brewer of Bondai a second tap line. In the end, we had to get just our own CO2 tank. About the keg storage instead, it was kindly offered by the Antica Contea brewery (which was also our stand neighbor), which easily solved us a big problem!
When the week of the event arrived, we started to organize the booth. The municipality had provided precise information about dates for setting it up, but going to the place on the first day indicated we noticed that the road was strangely still open to traffic. After going to the police, the president found out that they were told to close traffic on that street just the next day. So we had to go home empty-handed and plan again the work for the next day.
The second attempt went better and we were able to mount the gazebo, the menu board and the electrical system. The next morning Giulio brought the tap line and the counter along with his kegs, while for Bondai beer, me, the president and the brewer Luca met in Udine for the kegs delivery and to drink a beer together at Public House Pub.
In the afternoon we were able to complete the whole set-up together with an improvisation arranged by Max to allow people to drink with a roof on their heads since the weather forecast was far from good. During the work Fabrizio, the owner and chef of the restaurant Ai Tre Amici in front of our stand, kindly offered us a drink stopping to chat with us allowing us to have a very pleasant break with him. At the end of the evening, Max, me and the president also enjoyed a final beer at Dinoteca, a wine bar with a restaurant a few meters from our stand location that offers also several craft beers.
The main event
And it came Thursday, the first official day of the event. As expected, it was raining and there wasn’t a lot of people around on the street. Someone still had the pleasure of stopping to taste some beer. Around 10pm there was a violent rainstorm and our stand was tragically flooded by several inches of water. We still managed to close successfully the evening by coming home soaked in water.
The next day was a little better, it wasn’t sunny but it wasn’t raining either. There was more crowd around, and business was much better than the night before. Shortly after the opening, Giuseppe, the brewer of the Birrificio Basei, visited us and had a chat. At lunch they also came to visit all my work colleagues who had decided to have lunch together at the event.
After lunch unfortunately it started raining again, and all the people who were on the streets were slowly disappearing. The attendance was back low, so we took the opportunity to take a tour in the areas around our stand. Nearby was the stand of the Slovenian brewery Green Gold managed by their importer Marko and Danijel, publican of Pub Bunker and our collaborator and friend, who made us taste some very interesting beers. The day continued in this way until closing.
But Saturday fortunately everything changed. The day was sunny and the city center was full of people already in the morning hours. The real Gusti di Frontiera had finally arrived: only during the morning were sold more beers than the previous two days put together, and the flow of people did not drop even for a moment in the rest of the day bringing us in the evening to remain without large glasses. Fortunately Danijel and Marko were very kind and lent us several packs of glasses that allowed us to finish the day.
On Sunday, the day was set to be a replay of Saturday, full of people and with an excellent flow. And so it was. Since it was the last day we decided not to replace the kegs after lunch and to apply some offers to attract more customers, idea that the public appreciated a lot. In the late afternoon the brewer of Meni’s Brewery visited us inviting us to taste an imperial stout aged four years in cask that would open shortly. I received the invitation with great pleasure by stopping by his booth to taste a wonderful imperial stout while heading for dinner. Shortly after dinner all the beers were sold-out, and we were able to conclude the last evening early.
The next day we began to disassemble everything, leaving last the gazebo itself that could not be removed until Giulio of Birrificio Campestre took away taps and the counter. Only at that point we could disassemble everything definitively concluding the event officially.
On a personal level it was an extremely constructive experience. For the first time I had the opportunity to participate in the organization of an event of this size managing a team of people available in a completely inhomogeneous way, a difficult challenge but that eventually brought me several satisfactions. I was able to see that even in a reality like among members of an Association, for a work of this type it was fundamental the presence of a small group that organized and led the rest of the team.
At the level of the Association the event went very well, allowing us to cover all the costs and to collect a fund for future events. In fact, from this experience we have already thought of several improvements to the stand such as a second gazebo to be added to the one in possession and a raised floor to avoid being unprepared in case of huge rains. All the staff were happy to have helped and collaborated on this event.
There have certainly been problems, controversies and misunderstandings, but everything has been managed perfectly thanks to some staff members who gave 110% of them for this project.
One thing that I would like is to organize in time with the breweries trying to produce the beers created by our members, also because many people asked what beers are ours. Surely it is a topic that I will continue to propose during the next meetings of the Association.
For now we organized a pleasant dinner for all the staff at the Dinoteca, a very pleasant evening that put an end to this amazing experience.