A BUNDABERG sugar cane farmer feels he has been shunned by organisers of the popular Bundy Flavours and Winterfeast Farmers Market for the second consecutive year.
If you don't recognise Steven Gregor by name you'd certainly recognise the Hungarian Langos and Sugar Cane Juice van he drives around in.
Mr Gregor's van is a common sight at many local festivals but has been missing from the past two farmers markets, much to his own chagrin.
For the past two years, Mr Gregor has had his application rejected because his food was deemed not "predominately local”.
"I was really surprised and disappointed,” Mr Gregor said.
Winterfeast organisers prioritise applicants who best meet the criteria of using local produce or are local producers themselves.
Mr Gregor fervently disagrees that his langos do not use local produce.
He said Ken's Kepnock Butchery supplied him with bacon and sausages; shallots came from a Moore Park Beach herb farm; garlic from a Bundaberg farm near his home; and Rum City Food supplied him with sugar and salt.
As for the sugar cane, Mr Gregor grows that on his 20ha farm at Three Chain Rd.
Sour cream, flour, cheese and smoked salmon are the only items Mr Gregor says come from outside the Bundaberg region.
Mr Gregor was invited to supply his sugar cane juice only but declined because he did not want to disappoint or confuse his loyal customers given his van has Hungarian Langos emblazoned on it.
What frustrated Mr Gregor even more was when he attended the festival last weekend, he noticed food vendors running out of food by mid-morning.
"I'm not against anybody that was there but they ran out of food about 9am.
"There was not enough food and I was told there were too many food vendors.”
Disgruntled, Mr Gregor said he wouldn't be applying next year.
"I have given up,” he said.
Cut from markets
A BUNDABERG knifemaker says the Bundy Flavours and Winterfeast Farmers Market's strict criteria for stallholders needs to change.
Scottie Simmonds, who owns Gidgee Knives, was shocked when he was overlooked for this year's festival.
"Having supported the first event, and being unable to attend last year, it was a little shocking when we were told our stall application was not accepted to attend this one,” Mr Simmonds said.
Festival organisers say they have a focus on promoting local produce and producers and endorsing a buy-local-and-eat-fresh culture.
But Mr Simmonds believes this view is short-sighted.
"To say they are not accepting general market stallholders unless they are a food producer that either grows or produces their own product, fresh, bottled or preserved, is a joke,” he said.
"And as a local maker, who produces kitchen and chef knives that are sold nationally and internationally, it was a little insulting.”
Mr Simmonds said the criteria clashed with the constant push the community hears about buying and promoting small, local businesses.
"We have an event that seems a great way to promote the region and what variety there is around here, yet they close the doors on someone instead of being proud Bundaberg has its own knifemaker who exports knives around the world,” Mr Simmonds said.
Council defends its position
BUNDABERG Regional Council says strict criteria for Bundy Flavours and Winterfeast Farmers Market is essential to ensure the integrity of the event.
The second annual Bundy Flavours and Winterfeast Farmers Market held last weekend received overwhelming endorsement from the huge crowd of 18,000 in attendance.
There were 17 catering vendors this year, along with 40 stalls.
A council spokesman said the event had a focus on promoting local produce and producers and endorsing a buy-local and eat-fresh culture, which was why Steven Gregor missed out.
"Mr Gregor, as was the case with some other applicants, was unsuccessful in his application because his product has minimal association with the required criteria,” the spokesman said.
"He was previously invited to supply his fresh sugar cane juice but chose not to accept that invitation.
"Strict criteria is essential to ensure participants at the event meet guidelines to protect the integrity of the event, which celebrates the region's produce and producers.
"The stallholder application clearly articulates that preference is provided to applicants who best meet the criteria of using local produce or are actually local producers.”
The spokesman said selection of stalls was important in the interests of providing variety.
Vendors are also selected to help provide the right balance, with a mix of those supplying sweets, savouries, meals and coffee.
"While some catering vendors did sell out, these were basically speciality suppliers,” the spokesman said.
"Many other vendors were trading right through to the culmination of the event.”
The spokesperson said Mr Gregor was in attendance at numerous council-organised events, which have a more open policy regarding stallholders.
"It has been explained to Mr Gregor that other applicants more appropriately met the criteria required for Bundy Flavours and Winterfeast Farmers Market, which is a speciality food event.”