A few years ago I may have responded to the topic of this month's Session, hosted by the English version of Birraire, in a different way. But now festivals are something that don't excite me anymore. Crowds and queuing aren't very much my thing, and I don't like the sort of consumerism they promote, especially the bigger ones that brag about having hundreds, if not thousands of different beers. It's not that I have something against them, mind you, like with romantic films, I'm simply not their audience.
Those very, very few that I attend, I like them more for the atmosphere and the people I know I'll find there than for the beers; after all, good, interesting beers is something I can find any day, without hardly any effort. In other words, a festival is to me not much more than a glorified beer garden.
This is, by the way, the reason why I adamantly refuse to pay an admission ticket for a festival, be it overt or covert. Pubs and beer gardens won't charge me a fee for the privilege of buying beer, so I don't see why I should pay any to get into a festival. Once again, I'm not against the charge itself; festivals are private enterprises and organisers will have legitimate reasons to set that charge, or not, it doesn't matter because either way, I don't think I'll be getting any real value in exchange of my money.
As for the role festivals play. As someone without any stakes whatsoever in the industry, I can only speculate, and likely is that I'll reach the wrong conclusions. Each festival is different and organisers will have each their own goals. Goals that are, and should be of no concern to us, the consumers. Since we haven't assumed any of the risks associated with putting together an event of this sort, we have no right to question their purpose.
At the end the day, though, and regardless of why we go to a festival (which sometimes can also mean spending quite some time and money to get there), what we all really want from a it is to have a good time, and as long as said good time is delivered, whether the purpose of the festival is to promote an industry—or a segment thereof—make a bunch of geeks happy or solely profit from a hot fad, is of very little relevance.