Beware promises of things that sound too good to be true! An apparently poorly organized taco and beer festival in the South Bay on Saturday promised unlimited tacos and beer tastings, but for the second time (!) vendors ran out of food and beer and it was just a whole lot of line-standing.
The Bay Area Taco and Beer Festival just happened at San Jose's Municipal Stadium on Saturday, and for the second time in nine months, festival-goers left angry and unsatisfied. Taco vendors ran out of food, in some cases within 90 minutes, and breweries ran out of beer an hour before the festival was supposed to end. The fiasco prompted a litany of complaints on Reddit, refunds from Eventbrite, and a dreaded "7 On Your Side" investigation by ABC 7.
One attendee, Joanne Kindel, tells ABC 7 that she was at the fest with friends celebrating her birthday, and it turned out to be a dismal celebration waiting in line for one free taco that she never got — she says that word spread in the line she was in that the vendor began charging $2.50 per taco, and then ran out before she got to the front.
Other attendees complain on Reddit about breweries that were letting people fill multiple cups for friends in other lines, and then having the kegs run dry before others in line got a taste.
"Such a terrible event!!" writes Redditor ksaesee. "Basically a scam and rip off! $45 ticket got us one taco each and a few refills of our tiny cup." This person adds, "My friend paid $78 cus he bought it last minute before it was sold out... Plus they sent out an email giving 50% discount for the next event; bbq and beer fest. That will be a heck no for me."
ABC 7 tried to track down promoter Brandon Mozley of Live Free Events to no avail. But it's true that this outfit appears to be organizing another, similar beer-and-food fest at the same San Jose venue in November called the Bay Area BBQ & Beer Fest on November 2, and Eventbrite is still offering tickets despite having to issue refunds for this one, per ABC 7.
Eventbrite issued a statement saying, "In the rare instance that an event significantly under-delivers on what was advertised, we work with all parties to reach a fair outcome. In this case, we've been working with the organizer to issue refunds to attendees who have requested them."
The Reddit thread for the event suggests that the organizers have stopped issuing refunds, though that is not confirmed.
And this apparently isn't such a "rare instance"! A quick search for the November iteration of the Bay Area Taco & Beer Fest at the same venue yields a Yelp page with a litany of the same exact complaints.
"This was a terrible event," wrote Daniel P. last November. "Lines [were] extremely too long and not organized at all. It was okay for beer samples but the event advertised unlimited tacos and closer to the end some of the vendors started charging." Similarly, Sally D. writes, "This event was not worth the $40. Like every[one] said, the line is ridiculous — we were able to get 3 tacos and waited in line for a total of almost 3 hours."
Not all festivals are created equal, to be sure, but certainly sometime in this century people will figure out that festivals are a numbers game that nearly always benefit the promoters more than they do the attendees — and there will almost always be ridiculous lines. The San Francisco Beer Week opening gala, which is one of the better organized of the region's festivals, nonetheless involves a lot of line-standing for the most popular breweries — and if you don't buy tickets for the VIP hour, you will be standing in a lot of lines for a lot of beers, albeit usually short ones of less than 10 minutes. Food is a little easier to come by at Outside Lands with a whole bevy of vendors in several locations, but it's still for a price and not without big lines at prime meal times and in between big sets.
And anything promising all-you-can-eat tacos had better come with some kind of disclaimer — it's fairly clear that the taco vendors in this fest had a cap for how many "free" tacos they'd been paid for by the promoters, and once that cap was reached they had to start charging or else lose money.
Stay tuned for more if and when that BBQ fest occurs.