Organisers of a wine festival in South Australia’s McLaren Vale region have blamed rogue bus operators for an outbreak of drunken behaviour over the weekend.
- The Sea and Vines Festival was held in the McLaren Vale wine region over the long weekend
- Pictures and videos show drunken behaviour and drug use
- There are calls for organisers to take more responsibility for patrons’ behaviour
Becky Hirst normally promotes McLaren Vale wine and tourism on her Winey Times Facebook page, but over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend she instead took to social media to complain about bad behaviour at the Sea and Vines Festival.
Pictures and videos have emerged showing people falling down drunk, urinating in public and using cocaine during the event south of Adelaide.
Ms Hirst said 12 people at the event needed paramedics on Sunday.
“There are hundreds of people drunk as skunks wandering around our country roads right now,” Ms Hirst wrote.
“Someone will die. I’ve never seen it so bad.
“I’m calling out any concept of responsible service of alcohol happening. These people can barely stand.
“And the guy in the white jeans, I wouldn’t have been half as furious had you not come up to my passenger window and started undoing your buttons to show me what you’d got.
“It’s time for this festival to have a total rethink. I’m furious.”
Licensed buses not welcome to event
McLaren Vale Grape, Wine and Tourism Association general manager Jennifer Lynch said operators of buses with liquor licences encouraged people to get drunk before they even arrived at the festival.
She said the festival worked with pubs that organised buses and did not serve alcohol onboard.
“Unfortunately, what is out of our control is some copycat event companies that undertake a similar mechanic under the guise of these festival operations to bring patrons to the region,” she said.
“It’s something that is not just a problem in McLaren Vale but extends to many of our other regions and also metropolitan areas too.”
She said licensed buses were not welcome in the region during the festival or at any other times.
“To note that whilst the coverage is certainly unfavourable and highlights some highly isolated incidents of anti-social behaviour, there were some other successful elements of the festival that were delivered and enjoyed by the majority of our festival patrons,” Ms Lynch said.
Festival behaviour getting worse, former organiser says
McLaren Vale wine identity Max Mason said the region had played an important role in teaching people about enjoying wine.
“However, I think the reins are sometimes off during the Sea and Vines Festival because people move so regularly through the day and because they’re on buses that are often licensed from the city,” Mr Mason said.
“A little wildness maybe gets underway and gets into proceedings a bit that shouldn’t these days, where concentration is so heavy on responsible service of alcohol and safe delivery of alcohol.”
Alistair Cranney said behaviour at the festival was “nowhere near as bad” when ran it.
He said there was now less oversight over bus operators bringing visitors to the region.
ABC Radio Adelaide listener David called in to say he and his wife had stopped going to the Sea and Vines Festival, as well as the A Day at the Green concerts, which are also held in McLaren Vale.
“It’s quite clear to me that there is a significant part of the population who go along to this … to get drunk, and their behaviour immediately is to immerse themselves in alcohol,” David said.
“Particularly when you’re at a concert, that just doesn’t match.
“The problem is the organisers of these sorts of issues are drunk on the profits of drinking alcohol.”
Ms Lynch said the tourism association would “undertake a comprehensive review of the success of the festival”, which would include looking at areas which could be improved.
She said anti-social behaviour was “extremely isolated”.