Sometimes I ask myself the same question, especially around this time of the year when plans for the Festival are well underway and my phone never stops ringing as I try to juggle work, college, a home life and the festival all at one time. It's a difficult job sometimes and often I wonder why I don't get paid to do this considering the time and the effort that goes into organising the Festival - but I don't get paid, it is all voluntary, and I knew that when I took on the role as organiser. I also suspected it would often be a demanding and thankless task, although with the thankless part I have been proven wrong (in most circles at least). But, I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't truly believe in what the Beer Festival means to me.

So to answer the question, I do this because of my love for real ale and the belief that the Beer Festival gives me the opportunity to do my bit and bring the campaign for real ale to everyone in Cambridge (and a few from other parts of the country too!!). To me, campaigning is the real reason for the existence of CAMRA, it's what it was established to do, hence the name, CAMpaign for Real Ale. CAMRA has grown over the years; it has become an institution in the eyes of real ale lovers up and down the country. In saying that I have to point out that I do not always agree with all the statements that come out of CAMRA's Head Office and feel that they could be doing more to sign up new members to lobby government and campaign louder on the many issues that face brewers and publicans today.

There are hundreds of beer festivals that go on in cities, towns and pubs across the UK bringing the campaign to everyone, not just CAMRA members, but to Joe Bloggs on the street. Beer festivals give everyone the chance to experience the many different types of real ale and find for themselves the fun and variety that exists in beer. I think it's wonderful that people of all ages are coming to these festivals and enjoying the atmosphere and sociability of real ale. Festivals provide a safe and friendly venue for everyone to come and experience real ale and that's another reason why I do what I do. I love socialising, I love real ale and the Beer Festival gives me the opportunity to do both.

Cambridge Beer Festival is unique for me because of its location on Jesus Green, by the River Cam, offering a beautiful setting for such an event. We do not offer music or games or other entertainment, but we do have the best of British real ales, ciders and perries, English wine, mead and cheese. We try to use local business for all of our equipment and supplies because we believe we need to support them. We have a good relationship with the Council, the police and emergency services who have to agree the Festival can go on. We have volunteers who come from all over the country to help us set up and run the Festival the 3 weeks we are onsite. There is a great community spirit amongst those who volunteer and many come back year after year because they enjoy the Festival so much.

The 36th Cambridge Beer Festival opens on Monday 18th May until Saturday 23rd May 2009. Hope to see you there this year!

Debbie Keane Cambridge CAMRA Beer Festival Organiser ,/div>