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Chocolate festival folds after 'embarrassing' first day

Organisers claim they were treated poorly by the Biscuit Factory venue in Edinburgh.

By STV News

Published 21 Dec 2016.

A festival promoted as Scotland's biggest celebration of chocolate has been shut down after an "embarrassing" first day.

The Scottish Chocolate Festival was due to run at the Biscuit Factory in Leith, Edinburgh, over the weekend, offering tasting sessions, artisan workshops and family entertainment.

It was cancelled after a "disastrous" first day on Saturday, with organisers claiming they were forced to clean up "broken glass, cigarette butts, vomit and urine" left by the people who had been running an earlier event.

They also claimed the majority of the venue's power sockets did not work, and said its kitchen had been left in an "appalling state".

The team behind the venue, the Biscuit Factory, rejected the claims made by festival backers, describing them as "categorically false".

Organisers described the festival as an "utter embarrassment" and pledged to refund to all those who had bought tickets or booked stalls.

Angry customers took to the event's Facebook page to criticise the handling of the event and demanded refunds.

Holly McLeod wrote: "Very disorganised! Very amateur! Felt sorry for the vendors. What a waste of money for not only our tickets but also return train and taxi fares! Who were the people organising this event?!

"I can't imagine that they have any previous event organising experience at all. I've been to better church and school fetes! I doubt that Sunday's event was cancelled just because of the power problem."

Dawn Falconer wrote: "People who attended yesterday were very disappointed too! We paid £21 for something smaller than the many free markets that take place in Edinburgh every weekend. Are we going to get a refund. We were there for 10 minutes!"

Alice Kirsnanow said: "You should have cancelled the event completely. Yes, the public would have been disappointed, but they would not have been subjected to the farce that you allowed to take place.

"The venue is clearly not suitable for a chocolate festival and there were absolutely no adequate hygiene facilities to allow the so called workshops to take place."

Adele Fox posted: "This is an absolute disgrace, gives hard working event professionals a bad name who work tirelessly to create memorable events for people to enjoy.

"Whoever organised this should seriously consider a career change or further training."

Jo Fraser, who organised the festival, said: "Despite the heroic efforts of my team and the vendors, the event had no chance of living up to its expectations and was an utter embarrassment.

"I spent most of the day desperately trying to make the best of a bad situation while dealing with dozens of very legitimate complaints, refund requests and angry vendors."

The Biscuit Factory stated it would work with those affected to receive compensation from those behind the aborted event.

A spokesman said: "The Biscuit Factory is only the venue in this instance and whilst it is unfortunate that the event organiser had issues, the statements regarding the venue are categorically false.

"We are happy to work with customers to ensure that they are compensated by the organiser."