North-east festival Midsummer Beer Happening celebrates 10th birthday

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It started as a relatively small town hall event organised by a group of friends to celebrate Scotland’s brewing industry 10 years ago.

Now the Midsummer Beer Happening has grown into one of the country’s biggest beer festivals.

And this weekend organisers will be marking the special anniversary by raising money for four local organisations at the three-day celebration.

Organiser Robert Lindsay said the group has come a long way since the first festival was launched at Stonehaven Town Hall.

For the first event the core group of five organisers had to travel around Scotland picking up beers from different breweries.

But they were not even sure the festival would go ahead because the area was devastated by flooding in the run-up to the event in 2009.

Some of the affected residents had been given temporary accommodation inside the town hall where the real ale festival was due to take place. Mr Lindsay said: “The flooding wasn’t an easy time for the town.

“However, I do think it helped galvanise the residents. It was organised for the weekend after the floods had occurred.

“It was a tragedy for those whose homes and businesses had been flooded – our event was able to give people a bit of a focus and a place to discuss everything and have a beer.”

The festival eventually grew into such a big attraction that visitors were queuing in the cold for more than an hour in the winter to get into the venue because it was so busy. In 2015 it was moved to Baird Park and changed to a summer event.

The not-for-profit event is a three-day celebration of brewing, food and music with brewers now travelling from all over the country to give visitors a taste of their products. And the organisers continue to raise money for local causes, raising more than £125,000 since the event started.

Four different causes will be supported this year – the Men’s Shed in Stonehaven, Stonehaven Youth Football Club, Stonehaven Sea Cadets and the town’s Rhythm Nation Dance and Fitness group.

Mr Lindsay said: “It is a wonderful achievement for all those involved, for the town itself, all the volunteers and all the different organisations that have been helped.

“It just shows the commitment of everyone involved, not just those who have organised it but the whole community. The event has gone from strength to strength, from originally having 3,000 to more than 5,000 people there.

“This year we have around 20 breweries coming to us and they are setting up their own stalls. They will be serving the beer themselves along with our volunteers. It is totally different from the first event.”

The 10th Midsummer Beer Happening will be held at Stonehaven’s Baird Park from tomorrow and will end on Saturday.

A cycle sportive that first took place in 2015 with around 100 participants has also grown with more than 1,000 riders due to take part this year.