[See UPDATE below]
By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank won’t be hosting the annual International Beer, Wine & Food Festival scheduled for May 15 because of “left-over Covid issues,” the event’s organizer said Tuesday.
“We simply could not get enough restaurants to participate because they do not have the staff to handle their regular hours, let alone an event,” Samantha Bowers-Crader, who chairs the board of event host Red Bank RiverCenter, told redbankgreen by email Wednesday.
In addition, with the recent retirement of RiverCenter executive director Glenn Carter, “our office is short-staffed,” she said.
The spring event has not been held since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though its fall counterpart, the Guinness Oysterfest, returned after a one-year pandemic shutdown last September.
Each, held in the White Street municipal lot downtown, typically draws thousands of food and music lovers.
Bowers said it’s “too early to talk about” the Oysterfest, slated for September 25, “but we are hoping to have the event.”
Ruthanne Harrison, owner of event planner RUE Events, whose announcement of the cancellation cited “left over Covid issues,” did not respond to a redbankgreen request for clarification emailed to her Tuesday. Her firm also organizes the Oysterfest.
UPDATE: Late Wednesday, Harrison responded by email. “Due to staffing issues with subcontractors we feel that it wouldn’t be viable to host the International Beer, Wine & Food Fest. While we did make the decision to hold off this Spring, we look forward to building out the calendar for the reminder of the year and welcoming guests into beautiful downtown Red Bank.”
A Red Bank merchant who was involved in the planning but asked not to be identified confirmed that restaurateurs “didn’t want to commit that much staff if they are short” of staff for the May 15 event.
In addition, “Rue Events wasn’t being as cooperative” as RiverCenter wanted, particularly in regard to requests to re-position stages and make other changes to give the event a fresh look, the merchant said.
“So, they figured let’s do something cooler later on sometime,” the merchant said of RiverCenter.
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