Published: 08:39, 12 June 2019
| Updated: 10:58, 12 June 2019
It was billed as the Great British Gin Festival.
But some of those attending the event at the Kent Event Centre at the Kent Showground in Detling over the weekend came away less than impressed.
The organisers promised a choice from 100 gins, a free gin glass, cocktail demonstrations and live music.
In return patrons paid anything up to £21.72 for entrance and were obliged to purchase gin tokens at either £20 or £30, entitling them to four or six gin and tonics respectively.
The advanced publicity promised that if guests had unused tokens at the end of the day, they would be given 25 ml test tubes to take their gin measures home with them.
But the reality proved somewhat different.
One woman who asked to remain anonymous said: "There was no atmosphere. You had to set up your own tables and chairs from a corner of the room.
"There was no facility to use up the leftover tokens to take gin samples home because they didn't have any test-tubes, and everyone was ushered out at 3.30pm on Saturday when tickets said the event ran from 12 till 4pm."
Another patron Donna Osborn said: "There was an opportunity to sample one gin from one company and five from another - all other gins were £5 each.
"There was a stall selling goat curry at £8.50 or £10, but the smaller portion was tiny. Also there were not enough seats so we had to eat the curry standing up!
"I definitely won’t go again!"
Milly March travelled from Cambridgeshire to attend the festival with friends. She said: "It went wrong from the beginning. It was pouring down with rain when we arrived. They kept us waiting outside and were 20 minutes late opening the doors. We were soaked!
"It was quite busy, but seemed very disorganised. There weren't enough seats and you had to sit on the floor.
"The organisers had clearly put very little money into it. The decor was dreary. There was live music, but even they played depressing Indie rock music."
Miss March also commented on the absence of the promised bottles to take any spare gin measures home. She said: "I heard some story about their supplier having failed to deliver them.
"But they didn't offer a cash refund instead. The attitude seemed to be 'tough'."
Miss March said she had contacted the organisers by email and Facebook to complain but had received no response.
The organisers of the event disputed the allegations.
A spokesman said: "We had around 1,500 guests over two days and to date have received only three email complaints relating to the show.
"We take these very seriously as we endeavour to deliver a show that meets everybody's expectations.
"Although these complaints are higher then we would like to receive, it is roughly 1 in 500 guests which is not indicative of any serious issue at the event.
"We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to any guests who felt that the event did not match their expectations."
In relation to the specific complaints, the company said: "The doors to the venue did open on time. However many people arrived early, resulting in some having to wait up to 20 minutes while mandatory security checks were undertaken.
"We sent ticket scanners down the queue in an attempt to expedite this, however, safety is of course a major priority."
The firm said: "On seating, the Gin Festival is not a seated event. However, we did put out around 250 chairs for our patrons. Anybody who requested seating from a member of staff was provided with it."
The spokesman confessed: "Unfortunately, our delivery of test tubes we normally use to give people unused gin measures did not arrive in time.
"We allowed people to use their tokens towards other merchandise.
"As regards atmosphere, every venue we work in is different and this one in particular only had a small amount of ceiling rigging to allow for some of our usual decorations.
"However we did manage to bring in everything that wasn't ceiling based.
"As we do at all our events, we provided music from a live band, a number of cocktail demonstrations and interesting talks about gin from the trade stands.
"Our aim is to offer a wide selection of gin for guests to taste and buy, as part of an entertaining and engaging, sociable event.
"But we will take on board any negative feedback and implement positive changes to improve our show wherever possible."