4b or not 4b, that is what we question… 4b Festival, New Haven

24 Mar

4b Festival Collage New Haven OmNomCT

Beer, bourbon, bacon, and BBQ. What’s not to love about this combination?  Needless to say, when we found out about this Digital Surgeons event that was coming to New Haven, we were all over it…and apparently so was everyone else because both sessions sold out fast!  Not only did we buy tickets, but as bloggers of all awesomely edible things, we also shared some of the vendors that would be there, and even interviewed David Salinas, organizer of The 4b Festival.  That was back in December…now let’s fast forward to March 22 for the event.

After we waited in a fairly long line to park, we made our way over to the venue. It was a bit of a walk but we didn’t mind because it was a beautiful day out. Even though we got there a few minutes before the 12-4 session started, there was a HUGE line that wrapped around the parking lot like a sinister slithering snake. Because we were given press passes, we were able to go right into the Press/VIP entrance, get our IDs checked, and head on in, but we had friends in line and felt awful for them and everyone else because we knew it was going to take a while to get through that line. This is where things began to get ugly…

The 4b Facebook page almost immediately LIT UP with complaints from people waiting in line, some for an hour or two…some even soaked by a brief rainfall.  But the worst part about waiting in a seemingly endless line is that people had paid good money for four hours of an event and only ended up getting in 2 or 3 hours worth because that’s how long the line took.  And, yes, they would definitely need that time, because this is where things got uglier…

Plenty of cupcakes and treats made with Founder's Beer, but they cost extra money...

Plenty of cupcakes and treats made with Founder’s Beer, but they cost extra money…

We already talked about the line outside to get in, but once inside the lines to get a sample of beer, bourbon, or food were WAY too long, some 20-30 minutes long.  And it was impossible to know where the line began or ended because it was so crowded…way oversold.  This made for some “almost” brawls between irritated attendees.

The venue had potential, but there seemed to be a lot of empty rooms that were closed up, which is too bad because it would’ve been great to spread the event out more to prevent some of the back up.  It was freezing in there too, which would’ve been worse if the day were chillier and could’ve been better if were able to have enough alcohol to get warmed up. Speaking of…

Beer samples were poured out only to a quarter of the way in tasting glasses. This equaled one or two sips. And the bourbon samples? Yeah, just enough to taste it on your tongue. Why? Because everyone was afraid they’d run out.

The selection of beer itself was not ideal, featuring just DC Brau, Thimble Island, Shebeen Brewing Co., Two Roads, and a few others. Most CT breweries were conspicuously not present, even though they were advertised at first. Actually, it seemed like many vendors that they said would be there, didn’t show up.

Foolproof Brewery pouring at 4B festival

Excellent brews here…

There was barely any BBQ (Bobby Q’s pulled pork pizza was awesome, though) to try, and if you wanted anything substantial (like a sandwich) you had to buy it. Yes, you had to pay MORE money for food, even after paying $50/75 or $125/$150 for tickets.  And, we found bacon in only a few places: a small bit atop a deviled egg and in candy for purchase at two tents. For a festival with bacon & BBQ in its name, this was disappointing and quite the misnomer.

People became so sick of it all, that they opted to leave early and go to places like Bar, Cask Republic, and Anna Liffey’s to get their food and drink fill. Heck, we even did this, along with several of our friends an hour and a half before our session ended.  

According to Facebook posts, there was a similar kind of experience during the second session.  There were reports that vendors were running out of supplies (to be honest, some were already running out during the first session) and there were even vendors that had left early.  People were also reporting that the 4b volunteers started taking off their shirts because they were embarrassed to be a part of the event.

And, to top it all off, the 4b Festival Facebook page administrators deleted many people’s comments (and froze wall posting ability) about how upset they were and how they felt scammed and lied to…which only makes things worse and gets people more fired up.  Social Media 101.

Final Thoughts

The only things that weren’t ugly was VIP entry because it had no lines and you had about 15-30 minutes to hit up all the vendors before the huge lines made it in. There was also a decent variety of bourbon and whiskey, from lower shelf brands like Jack and Wild Turkey and better options like Woodford and Bulliet. We were expecting more of the better options, though.  Even still, at $125/$150, VIPs were upset, feeling cheated out of even more money with very little in return for paying double the price of a regular ticket.

Yes, we all had high expectations for the 4b Festival overall, but we should also remember to keep our expectations grounded. This was the first year of the event and there are always kinks. For example, we had an O.K. time at the first Harbor Brewfest…although there was an amazing beer selection, the lines were long and it was crowded. But, the next year it was an amazing event that we loved…probably our favorite beer festival.

The question is, now, will the organizers of 4B be able to improve upon this fatally flawed event? While they might make changes and improve the organization, we feel like they will be up against hundreds of people who felt cheated, scammed, and are still demanding refunds. We can see the potential in this festival, but not unless they make major changes and apologize to all those who rated the event as 1 star (averaging 2 out of 5) on Facebook.  Just acknowledging that lines were long and that they were listening to comments is simply not enough.  

Our verdict? We’re skeptical of future plans for the 4b Festival, but we’re willing to keep an open mind.  There are several things they could do to improve the experience…guess we’ll have to wait and see.

19 Responses to “4b or not 4b, that is what we question… 4b Festival, New Haven”

  1. Glazoo April 11, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    My daughter give me tickets to go to this event for Christmas, and it was even more special because it was happening on my Birthday. Needless to say I was very much looking forward to this.
    We also go there at 12:00 and waited in line for an hour to get in, but I’m not going to go through a laundry list of things that went wrong.
    I will say that I think the people running this were woefully inept. I haven’t done anything on this sort of scale, but I would have had someone to be responsible for emptying the few trash receptacles that were available, and have some tables by the food trucks so people didn’t have to sit on the asphalt.
    The people who put this on never offered an apology, but were told that it would be better next year. I would caution anyone thinking of going, that if they are going to have it at the same place and are going to sell the same amount of tickets per session (2000) save your money and go to a real BBQ place.This venue can’t support that number of people.
    We also left early and went to a local BBQ that was advertised as one of the BBQ joints that was going to be there.
    It was great!

    Like

  2. Costa Cucina March 24, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    So glad we didn’t waste our time and money!

    Like

  3. Lauren March 24, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    Already sent a note to Neil….NOT happy and wonder if I will even hear back…

    Like

    • Dan and Kristien Del Ferraro March 24, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

      You definitely should have your voice heard regarding this. You might not get a note back, but at least you know it was sent and read. Plus, you also know that people are aware of this through our post so things like this hopefully won’t happen again.

      Like

  4. Garrett Waldron March 24, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    I am not letting the event organizers off the hook. Here is their contact info to DEMAND an apology. I will not let David Salinas get away with stealing our money.
    Digital Surgeons – Office Line
    (203) 672-6201
    
Neil Halpen – 4B Fest General Manager
    (203) 260-2321
    Laura Hall – 4B Fest Press Manager
    (917) 544-6344
    A social media company that engages in Facebook censorship? What a joke.

    Like

    • Lucci March 24, 2014 at 10:47 pm #

      Why don’t you give it a rest, you made your point. Sounds more personal .

      Like

      • Dan and Kristien Del Ferraro March 25, 2014 at 5:35 am #

        Personally, we actually had a decent time. We spent time with friends and laughed. We wrote this from the perspective of the average festival goer and compared it with other festivals that we’ve been too.

        Like

  5. slimsmitty March 24, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    Thanks so much for the info! I was incredibly bummed out that I wouldn’t make it to the event. But now I’m glad I didn’t spend the money, frankly… Hopefully 4B 2.0 will be planned out better!

    Like

  6. Chowdafest Chairman March 24, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    Hey D&K!

    I had a conflict last Sat but had wondered how 4B would work – had my concerns. Loved your headline – it’s easy not 2B if you don’t start off on the right foot (or in this case, standing too long on them). Lot’s of people don’t give an event a 2nd chance.

    We’re working on a larger better venue for Chowdafest – will keep you posted.

    Jim

    Liked by 1 person

  7. playballnyy March 24, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    Sorry for the double post, stupid wordpress!

    Like

    • Dan and Kristien Del Ferraro March 24, 2014 at 9:31 am #

      Ha, don’t worry. WordPress is mainly a great site, but we have to deal with annoying things about it, too. Like, for example, it won’t show a preview of a post or the most annoying is that if you’re saving a draft sometimes it will save the date that you first started working on it. Lots of times we’ve published posts that get dated to a few weeks before because that’s when the original draft was first saved. Really annoying.

      Like

  8. playballnyy March 24, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Ugh, I just left a long winded comment but I think it’s gone cuz I didn’t sign in first :/ Basically, I’m glad I decided NOT to spend the money on this one. I had a feeling between the location and it being the first year it was not going to be money well spent.

    Glad you mentioned the HarborYard Brewfest. I’m stilled amazed at the improvement from one year to the next. Now THATS A festival I’ll continue to go to year after year!

    Like

  9. playballnyy March 24, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    Thanks for the review. I normally run to such an event but decided to because of the high price in combination with not being familiar with the venue AND it being the first one. So glad I stuck with the decision. Also, we’re their parts outdoors? To soon in the year for me to pay and then have the possibility of freezing.

    Nice shout out to the Harbor Yard Brewfest. The improvement from one year to the next was amazing. Now that’s a festival I’ll continue to go to year after year!

    Like

    • Dan and Kristien Del Ferraro March 24, 2014 at 9:25 am #

      Yeah, there were about 6 or so BBQ joints and trucks that were stationed outside in the parking lot. So, yup, you had to go outside if you wanted to buy their goods. We really do love Harbor Brew Fest and can’t wait for this year! Nice job putting this one off. First years are always tricky, you never know what you’re going to get.

      Like

  10. Geoff Mattheis (@gmattheis) March 24, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    I was right there with you feeling super pumped and excited to be there, but then completely duped by 2 (when i left). Took an hour to get in, lines were disorganized and practically out the door to even get a splash. I had one chip with pulled pork, and 2 oz of beer, and then left disgusted, all of that took an hour.

    Like

    • Dan and Kristien Del Ferraro March 24, 2014 at 9:24 am #

      Geoff, it was upsetting to see. Lines going every which way. In the main hall near the entrance…well, that looked like one huge line that never ended. Lines for beer were clogged and congested, sometimes with 6 separate lines somehow coming together. Oy.

      Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 5 Essential Keys to Brewing a Great Beer Festival | OmNomCT - April 7, 2014

    […] we published our critical review of the 4b Festival (Bacon, BBQ, Beer, and Bourbon) in New Haven, we got a tweet from the CT Beer Trail.  They said, […]

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