The COVID pandemic threw the hospitality industry into dire straits. Big fests and awards were immune. Throughout March and April, we received a steady stream of postponements and cancellations. But, where do these events stand now? Are they still happening.
Neat Pour checked in with Bar Convent, Great American Beer Fest, the James Beard Awards, Oktoberfest, ProWein, Tales of the Cocktail, and the World’s 50 Best Bars to learn when and how of their return.
BCB will be staged virtually as part of Global Bar Week from October 12-18. In addition to the normal streaming sessions, BCB will send out tasting boxes and stage small, socially distanced sessions in local bars and restaurants. Director Petra Lassahn offered an overview during an interview with Neat Pour.
“The online format comprises three primary components: The first is made up of virtual product presentations and tastings, while the second features high-quality content, presentations and seminars. The third component is the heart of the BCB: active exchange amongst our visitors around the globe and the promotion of new business relationships. These ties will be fostered through our matchmaking platform, which brings together our exhibitors and visitors according to their interests while making it possible to hold meetings online.”
The Great American Beer Fest (GABF) is the US’ largest celebration of suds, normally drawing over 60,000 hopheads for a ton of tasting. On October 16-17, GABF will try to replicate the experience online. Streaming seminars will tackle topics you’d expect such as beer history, breweries, and tasting tips.
For a fee, participants can purchase a Passport which will gain them access to more sessions as well as discounts at breweries nationally. The idea is that for some sessions, Passport holders can purchase the proper brews and food and then taste along at home.
One aspect of GABF will still involve in-person interactions. Judges will fly to Denver for comically distanced tasting to ensure that the annual awards still go on.
Acknowledging a history of systemic bias and the irrelevance of awards compared to the industry’s greater struggles at the moment, JBF will use the what-was-scheduled as their awards event to honor lifetime achievement type honorees and explore plans to increase diversity in the future.
The majority of the award winners for 2020 will not be announced. In addition, the 2021 James Beard Foundation Awards will also be cancelled. The organization explained that the 2021 awards would have honored performance during 2020, a virtual impossibility given the nationwide quarantines.
Right about now, Munich’s Festwiese should be packed with Bavarians and visitors sharing beer, pretzels, and chicken. However, COVID concerns cancelled the annual gathering. In 2021, the event will return.
ProWein’s multitude of international satellites makes for a multitude of decisions. October’s ProWine São Paulo is postponed until 2021. Likewise, November’s flagship ProWein Düsseldorf is postponed until March 2021.
However, China’s stringent regulations, including testing and tracking, will allow ProWine Shanghai to move forward as planned from November 10-12, 2020. Due to travel restrictions, expect many producers to be represented by Chinese surrogates.
Tales will occur digitally September 21-24. The Spirited awards will also shift commensurate to this new calendar with the winners announcement split between the first and final days. TOTC will be an entirely digital event featuring a mix of streaming seminars, wellness sessions, and virtual one-on-ones with mentors. The 2020 schedule is particularly heavy on social justice focused sessions with a little less of the classic cocktail content than we’ve seen in the past. The event is free, requiring only an online registration.
After spending much of the last six months focused on 50 Best for Recovery, an effort that has raised over $1.24 million for hospitality industry relief, 50 Best is ready to pivot back to their raison d’être.
On October 29, the group will drop their rankings of the 51-100 best bars. Then, on November 5, 1-50 will be revealed. Of course, the ceremony will be digital.
Of note: 50 Best implemented several changes this year including more regions, a 50/50 gender split among voters, and the retention of Deloitte to count and audit the votes.