Litchfield News

Group seeks use of fairgrounds for beer festival (02-01-18)

One of the balloons from last summer's New England Balloon Festival at the Goshen Fairgrounds splashed down in Woodridge Lake after it ran out of wind. The festival swamped the fairgrounds with more than 60,000 people, caused massive traffic jams and prompted Goshen's Board of Selectmen to strengthen the requirements of the town's special events ordinance governing functions at the fairgrounds. Contributed photo
Organizers of the inaugural New England Beer Festival are eyeing the Goshen Fairgrounds for the event, but first will have to prove to the town’s Board of Selectmen that the festival can meet the requirements of the town’s special events ordinance.
The festival would be held July 6-8 and would draw an estimated crowd of 30,000 over the three days, according to the special events permit application filed with the selectmen by Beer Belly Productions LLC.
Selectmen are taking their time to review the application as they seek to avoid the mess caused last July in town by the New England Balloon Festival at the fairgrounds. The festival drew 60,000 people over three days, double the capacity of the facility, and caused monster traffic jams, clogged Pie Hill Road with parked cars, and raised concern about the health and safety of those attending the event.
The balloon festival debacle prompted selectmen to tighten the requirements of the special events ordinance. Event organizers seeking permits now have to apply at least 90 days in advance and must present their plans to the selectmen, Goshen Fire Chief Barry Hall, Goshen emergency management director Jim O’Leary, the Goshen Agricultural Society and state police.
Selectmen have conducted a preliminary review of the Beer Belly Productions application and have asked for additional information on plans for parking, fire and emergency medical services, waste management, food and drink concessions, and the types of bands that would be performing.