There is a willingness to hold HE but the problem is finding a venue. The previous venue is being coy at committing due to Covid, Les told me they need a site with 500, 300 and 100 capacity areas for the various activities.
Maybe the Hidden Earth format needs changing so that the event fits with more venues. Examine how the event is financed so that more expensive venues can be considered. Perhaps arrange a focus group of caving event organisers from across the country to come up with some new ideas for our annual event (HE, Checc, cavefest, Kendal, RGS etc).
Would it be the end of the world not to run your own bar? I know Kendal didn't work out so well but I have been to loads of other events at Kendal and have never wanted for a drink, similarly many other events elsewhere. I sometimes get the impression that this is something the organisers care more about that the punters.
For me, one of the best things about Hidden Earth is catching up with friends from across the country (there have been years when I haven't attended a single lecture), to this end, the bar is a really important part of the event. There's also something nice about it being our own event, where even the bar staff (and DJs) are cavers.
I suppose a bar provided by the venue wouldn't be the end of the world at all, but it would be a lot more expensive and there wouldn't even be the feel-good factor of profits going to a good cause. I'm sure people would get over it, but it definitely seems worth making the effort to find somewhere where we can do our own if at all possible.
Agree reviewing the format is not a bad idea, especially as venue location seems to have been a challenge for many years. A dialled down version of Eurospeleo at Dalesbridge seems like it could work, based around hiring a few big marquees.
The bar is run by volunteers so there are no overheads or staff to pay. Means that the price we pay is trade plus a small margin for Hidden Earth etc. If we switch to a commercial offering then prices would rise significantly to pay for those extra costs. Hopefully there wouldn't be any complaints if they went that way.
And yes, previous commercial venues have ignored us when we tell them how much beer they need. Kendal Brewery ran out of bitter!
Having said that I'm sure H. E. would select such a venue if its the only one or its the best available. I guess the problem is finding ANY venue. We obviously don't want it on Mendip again if at all possible so suggestions please.