Festival fees force out traders

Christine McGinn | Bendigo Weekly | 20-Feb-2015

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RETAILERS and food van operators say they are being priced out of the Bendigo Easter Festival with “exorbitant” fees.

Traders, who requested to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, told the Weekly they would not operate at the festival due to increased costs and unforeseen conditions.

“We were one of the vans council preferred and we have been accepted into the Easter Festival but I am not convinced I want to be there,” one long-term operator said.

The operator said they would have been charged almost double the amount to attend the festival this year, with a $1200 to $2400 jump in site costs and other fees.

“There are a lot of unhappy traders who didn’t get into the fair. I’d prefer not to be in it. I will walk away from the $500 deposit because I don’t want to deal with Fiesta Events and Catering,” he said.

“The costs have gone up dramatically, about 50 to 100 per cent.

‘‘The Bendigo Easter

Festival was always a pleasant event.”
The operator said event management organisations generally increased prices and dictated product lines for traders.

“Now in my opinion they get all the benefit and we get stuck with all the up front costs,” he said.

“Fiesta will take about 25 per cent of our takings. It’s nobody’s business what I take,” they said.

Under the terms and conditions, all vendors will have to install an operational cash register and report takings to the event managers.

City Futures Director Stan Liacos said the contract with Fiesta had been signed for one year and could be extended at council’s discretion.

“We didn’t know about turnover reporting. Seems standard commercial practice though,” Mr Liacos said.

Another retired local operator also has serious concerns about the price hike and fears it will squeeze  vendors out of the festival.

“If council took it back, I’d be back in a heart beat,” the vendor said.

“I didn’t make an application because of the costings. We can’t afford it. We made an application out of town instead. How sad is it that vendors who have been coming for a long-time don’t like the terms and conditions.

“I don’t believe this will be a good outcome for the city and the food vendors in question. My advice is to take a picnic.’’

But Mr Liacos said 30 vendors would be operating this year, with five more vendors than the previous year.

“Last year’s sites fees were; for a 3x3m site $910 plus a $25 administration fee, and a 3x6m site was $1320 plus a $25 site fee,” he said.

“This year a 3x3m site is $990 and a 3x6m site is $1800.”

Traders are also required to pay for power supply to each power outlet costing up to $585 for three days for each outlet, a $500 bond and cool-room or freezer fee if necessary.

Mr Liacos said the vendor catering and catering management services were put to tender to the overall standard and quality of food.

“Greater variety of foods on offer, to ensure operational efficiencies for our community including cost savings in operations,” he said.

“Fiesta won the tender... on the conditions as public advertised in the tender – quality, reputation, price, fees, safety standards, response to tender conditions etcetera.”

Fiesta Events and Catering was contacted, but did not respond to a request for comment.

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