The countdown to Wigan Beer Festival is on once again - but organisers are urgently calling for volunteers to help the event continue to thrive.
Real ale fans will descend on Robin Park Indoor Sports Centre for a three-day celebration of all things hopped between March 5 and 7.
Amazingly it will be the 33rd year that Wiganers have gathered for a real ale event in the town.
However, the organising committee says that for the event to continue prospering in the future more enthusiasts are needed to give up a few hours of their time to roll up their sleeves and help.
And the search for new volunteers is made more urgent by a number of ale festivals pouring their final pints in recent years.
Joint festival organiser Sandy Motteram said: “We are now two months away from the festival and everybody is piling on it to make it the best festival we’ve ever had.
“We always need volunteers as they are essential to getting the festival done. Without them it couldn’t happen.
“We need people to serve behind the bars during the festival, to build the bars in the days leading up to the festive, to co-ordinate the staff, to wash glasses. Then there is the big job of doing the take-down on the Sunday.
“Some other festivals no longer happen and have ceased to exist, purely down to a shortage of volunteers to organise and run it. It’s very sad.
“This will be our 33rd festival in Wigan and long may it continue, but for that to happen we need people to sign up. It’s always a friendly atmosphere at the festival.”
As in previous years there will be dozens of ales in a huge variety of styles and strengths ranged across the dark and pale beer bars, with brews from further afield being showcased in the international section. There will also be real ciders and perries.
The festival is also determined to celebrate the incredible strength of the brewing scene in the borough, with Sandy hoping that all nine of the breweries in Wigan Camra’s branch area will be represented over the three days.
The organising team also hopes to put local acts in the entertainment line-up, while the vintage vehicle enthusiasts at Wigan Transport Trust will once again be running its fleet of classic vehicles between the sports centre and the town centre as a donation shuttle service.
The festival is now one of two big local beer bashes each year, following the launch of Wigan Beer Week last year, but Sandy says the Robin Park event retains its importance in the real ale calendar.
He said: “It gives beer drinkers the chance to find ales they may not otherwise get to try and new drinkers the chance to expand their horizons.”
Wigan Beer Festival is from Thursday March 5 until Saturday March 7. The volunteer form is at http://beerfestival.wigancamra.org.uk/volunteer-form