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Last Updated: Monday, 2 August, 2004, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Mixed reaction to alcohol on maes
Members of the bardic circle at the eisteddfod bar
Twm Morys (right) winner of the chair in 2003 welcomes the introduction of alcohol
One of Wales' top poets has approved of alcohol being sold at the eisteddfod for the first time by taking a drink at the bar in his bardic robes.

Twm Morys, who won the chair - one of the top prizes - for his poetry in last year's event, welcomed the sale of beer, wine and spirits.

The 35-year-old said that allowing alcohol to be sold on the maes was "long overdue"

But he admitted that not all of his counterparts were in favour of it.

"I think it is long overdue and a long time in coming but I am sure that the man who set up the Order of the Bards, Iolo Morganwg, would have approved," said Mr Morys, from Llanystumdwy in Gwynedd.

"I know that there are some who don't approve of it but I think it is a good idea.

"For us poets it is very important for us to have a bar and it makes a great meeting place - it's very civilised and long overdue," he added.

Two bars have been set up on the maes in converted airport buses.

People drinking at the bars on the maes
The bars have been introduced for the first time on the maes

The buses, which used to ship passengers from the terminal to the aircraft in Singapore, have been turned into mobile bars.

It is hoped they will encourage more people to visit the event to alleviate current financial problems.

But it has proven to be a controversial issue.

Chris Stedman, from Stedman Brothers, who are running the bars, said that he expected a variety of opinions from the visitors to the festival over the availability of alcohol on the maes.

"I think there will be a mixed reaction," he said.

It is better without alcohol
Dewi Watkin Powell

"On one hand, people will see it as bringing it into the 21st century.

"But there will also be a division who want to keep it as it was," he added.

There has been criticism about the introduction of alcohol onto the main eisteddfod areas.

Retired judge Dewi Watkin Powell, who was admitted to the Order of Bards 30 years ago, fears that it will lead to a rise in binge drinking.

"That view is reinforced by what's happening in Llanelwedd [where the Royal Welsh show is held]," he said.

"It is better without alcohol because there are problems and the more outlets for drink in terms of places and hours, the more people drink.

I don't think people coming to the eisteddfod come here to drink excessively
Elfed Roberts, eisteddfod director

"And the more people drink there is a tendency when you are in the mood for celebrating to go over the top and this is a really disturbing factor and unnecessary," he added.

But organisers have defended their decision to allow alcohol on the maes.

Elfed Roberts, the director of the National Eisteddfod said: "It is about normalising the event - it's available everywhere else so we want to do it at the eisteddfod.

"I don't think people coming to the eisteddfod come here to drink excessively.

"They come here to enjoy a bit of culture and socialising and some will have a drink.

"Of course there is the possibility that one or two will go over the top but that happens everywhere.

"The majority of people coming to the eisteddfod travel by car and are not coming here to drink.

"But it is all about offering choice.

"And this is about time that this rule of no alcohol on the maes was relaxed but it doesn't mean we are encouraging people to drink," he added.


SEE ALSO:
Traffic chaos hits eisteddfod
02 Aug 04  |  South East Wales



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