Helperby Beer Festival

The story of the Helperby Beer Festival and now the Helperby & Brafferton Recreational Trust, starts like any good story, with an idea… in a pub.

In 2014, 5 young dads (who are not so young anymore) decided to tackle the problem of a lack of a suitable children’s play area in the village. Coupled with a love of beer the obvious fund-raising event was a beer festival. So, with a lot of enthusiasm, a can-do attitude and a touch of naivety, plans for the 2015 beer festival got underway. No one knew if it would work, could we do it, would people come and where and how would we actually build a playground?

Hosting an event, it turns out, costs an absolute fortune. It is all consuming and takes more time than we could possibly have imagined. Starting from zero we begged, borrowed, pulled in favours, lent on friends to help and our families rarely saw us.

2015, although held together with gaffer tape, wet towels and a lot of good luck was a tremendous success! People came, people drank, people danced.. people drank some more.

The first year we raised an incredible £8,380, which was more then we could have ever hoped for.

We were onto something.

Over the next few years as we learned from our mistakes, we invested in our own equipment and year on year looked for ways to improve the day – not just to raise more and more money, but to also put on the best event we could.

We designed and built our own above ground cellar to ensure all our cask beer was kept and maintained at optimum temperature, built out own custom bar, installed a keg wall to give even more choice, opened the Gin Bar, booked better bands and added more to the entertainment and food offerings. We upgraded the stage, the PA system, the lighting and a hundred other things that have improved the festival year on year.

In 2023 we purchased our own handpumps which we hire out to other festivals and events.

In 2022 nearly 1,000 people attended the event, something we could never have imagined back in 2014 when we sat in the pub wondering if anyone would turn up.

The Site - "Festival Park"

The biggest challenge we were ever going to face was actually building the playground; they don’t come cheap and neither does the land to put them on.

In 2018 we conducted a village wide survey to gauge thoughts and opinions – the response was overwhelmingly positive and provided much food for thought.

It became apparent that just as the beer festival had grown in size so must our plans. If we were creating an asset for the village then a set of swings and a slide wouldn’t cut it – our plans had to evolve as did our organisational structure. Our initial plans for a playground were too limited and not fully inclusive. The revised vision now includes a sensory space, adventure trail, multi game ball pen and recreational space – an area for all residents regardless of age of physical ability and a tangible community asset.

All of which would need a larger site.

On the eve of the festival in 2022 we received confirmation that, subject to final legal caveats, we had been granted permission to take over the lease and apply for a change of use on a plot of land in the village.

The land is approximately 1.6 acres in size, bordered by the Cricket pitch to the east and Raghill Lane to the south. This was made possible by Sir Anthony and Lady Harriet Milnes-Coates who have our sincere thanks for their generosity and philanthropy.

We are currently going through the change of use application with the council and as part of this process local Architects HG2 have offered their time and expertise free of charge. The preliminary plan produced is not the final version but gives an very good illustration of what might be possible and demonstrates how the plans have evolved and what might be possible.

Helperby & Brafferton Recreational Trust

2022 was also the year we had our charity status confirmed.

Being a charity allows us to apply for many more grants and funding but as importantly ensures that everything we do can be scrutinised and is transparent. The Helperby Beer Festival is the main fundraising arm of the charity and will continue as normal; all monies generated throughout the year from the beer festival to pop-up events goes directly to the charity.

Details of our charity status, trustees and any other relevant information can be found at the Charity Commission.

We have a long way to go but have come a long way since the first meeting about a beer festival. We wouldn’t have got this far were it not from the overwhelming support we’ve received from the community, our sponsors, friends and of course our understanding supportive families.

Helperby Beer Festival Team

Keep up to date

2023 review
Another great festival!