The St. Mary’s Norton Beer Festival brought residents of Stockton-on-Tees, England to the site of a local church for four days of drinking, live music, and street food. The festival was held to raise funds for the church, which dates back 1,000 years.
But the good intentions of the event soon sparked outrage after pictures surfaced of attendees using gravestones to rest their drinks. In photos shared in a local Facebook group, attendees can be seen gathering around headstones, smiling, and holding beer to the camera.
The controversy prompted heated debate in the group and gained further attention when it was reported on by The Times (paywall). Many who commented on the post were apparently enraged by the attendees’ “disrespect” for the gravesite and those buried there.
On Monday, St. Mary’s Church issued its own apology for the events at the festival. “I am saddened that this event, which we’d hoped would bring joy and positivity in our community, has caused so much upset, and apologise to everyone who has expressed their concern,” Reverend Martin Anderson wrote in a post in the church’s Facebook group.
The church organized the event with the help of a local brewery, Three Brothers Brewing Company. The brewery’s co-founder, David Dodd, told CNN that in the future signs will be implemented and the graveyard “will be taped up.”