Beer festival is ale and hearty

Wigan Beer Festival
Wigan Beer Festival
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Wigan Beer Festival is taking real ale fans on a nostalgic trip along memory lane as it counts down to celebrating 30 years.

Organiser shave been preparing for the milestone bash at Robin Park Sports and Tennis Centre, which starts this week, by posting an array of pictures from events through the years on social media.

The launch of Wigan Beer Festival in 1990

The launch of Wigan Beer Festival in 1990

The images clearly show how both the festival and the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has grown, with bigger venues, more drinkers coming through the doors and a wider choice of beers being produced by increasing numbers of breweries.

Hundreds of thousands have raised a toast to the event over the last three decades.

And the countdown has also provided an opportunity to reflect on the hard work of real ale stalwarts who have been supporting the cause in Wigan almost since the beginning.

Jo Whalley, one of the real ale bar managers at this year’s extravaganza, said: “We want the 30th festival to be a big thing.

“It’s a huge achievement because we’re only 10 years behind the Great British Beer Festival in London.

“We’ve seen photos of people who aren’t with us any more, pictures of those who’ve left Camra and then come back and also those regular faces drinking out in the crowds.

“It’s really nice to see so many people who’ve come to us over and over again.

“That also shows that our aims for real ale haven’t changed and people support it as they always did.

“They still want a variety of good-quality beer and it’s evident on the pictures as you go back that’s been the biggest focus for everybody.

“It’s all really nice and quite nostalgic in the run-up to the festival.”

As well as the continuity within the borough’s beer scene, the pictures also show well the changing fashions of Camra and its supporters, with a startling array of hairstyles and clothes in evidence on the images.

One of the biggest changes for the Wigan beer bash was the move from the Mill at the Pier to its present surroundings at Robin Park.

The festival has also become known in recent years for its fancy dress days and annual themes, although this is actually a comparatively recent development with one of the first examples being the memorable pirate-based event promoted by organisers in suitable costumes boarding a canal barge.

Volunteers will once again serve up a huge range of real ales, foreign beers and real ciders and perries to hundreds of drinkers over the three days of the event.

The 30th Wigan Beer Festival runs from Thursday March 2 to Saturday March 4.

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The event has also developed a charitable side over the last eight years too.

Last year organisers were later able to hand a cheque for more than £1,000 to Wigan and Leigh Hospice.