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With two weeks to go Beachfest still in doubt

Doubts have been raised about whether the organisers of Beachfest 2014 have permission to stage this year's celebration on Horseshoe Bay.

With Cup Match just two weeks away, a source has told The Royal Gazette that the Department of Parks is still thrashing out the details for the Emancipation Day event with organisers, the Chewstick Foundation.

“They are still in the process of working on this,” said the source. “Until things are finalised, nothing is guaranteed.”

Chewstick founder and executive director Gavin Smith would not comment when asked yesterday if permission had been granted and the Department of Parks did not respond to questions by press time.

Meanwhile, this newspaper has been unable to confirm whether Chewstick has obtained a liquor licence from the Liquor Licensing Authority for the party on Thursday, July 31.

We e-mailed authority chairman Archibald Warner yesterday and left a telephone message for him at Magistrates' Court but he did not get back to us by press time.

A member of court staff said only Mr Warner could assist with our query.

Bermuda Police Service, which has to be notified of licence applications, would not comment on whether a licence had been approved or how many officers it planned to have at Beachfest this year.

Chewstick has been organising the Beachfest event at Horseshoe — featuring live entertainment and DJs, a beach football tournament, dominoes, tug-of-war, sand sculpting and volleyball — since 2006, attracting thousands of participants annually.

But last year the venue was switched to Snorkel Park at Dockyard just two weeks before Cup Match, when Chewstick admitted it didn't get permission to hold the party at Horseshoe in time to get adequate sponsorship.

The charity revealed that the previous year the event made a loss of $20,000 and that in 2013 the organisers were grappling with “financial challenges ... tight timelines and an increasing event budget”.

At Snorkel Park, an entry fee of $10 was charged for the first time — and turnout was down dramatically on previous years.

Mr Smith said at the time that plans were already afoot for the 2014 event to be held at Horseshoe. “This is something we have finally got worked out — we have permissions from Parks lined up for 2014 and beyond,” he told the Bermuda Sun.

On May 16 this year, the Chewstick Foundation issued a press release announcing that Beachfest would return to Horseshoe “with the help and partnership of the Department of Parks”.

The charity's website states that the event will be held on July 31 from 8am to 9pm and will feature a “major international headliner” as well as the culmination of a summer song competition.

With just 11 working days to go, the organisers will have to swiftly apply for a liquor licence — and hope it is granted by Mr Warner — if they want alcohol to be sold at the celebration.

But approval for such a licence is only likely to be given with the blessing of Parks and it is understood the Department has been unhappy with the amount of trash left on the beach in previous years.

A police spokesman said yesterday: “The Bermuda Police Service, as is customary every year, has developed a comprehensive policing plan for the Cup Match Holiday period which effectively starts on Wednesday (July 30) night until Sunday (August 3) night.

“During that time there will be a number of events, including concerts, water-based activities, as well as the actual Cup Match Game that the BPS must monitor, as well as give policing advice.

“During our upcoming Cup Match press conference, we will go into the specifics of that plan with the public and the media.”

In doubt: Beachgoers enjoy BeachFest at Horseshoe Bay Beach in 2012. The popular event is due to return to the beach location this month, but some doubts have been expressed

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Published July 16, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated July 16, 2014 at 12:28 am)

With two weeks to go Beachfest still in doubt

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