Southern Highlands Food & Wine Festival cancelled after date clash with Tulip Time

Bitter finish: The annual festival was looking to attract more than 8000 people to the Berrima township and economy. Photo: file.
Bitter finish: The annual festival was looking to attract more than 8000 people to the Berrima township and economy. Photo: file.

The 2018 Southern Highlands Food and Wine Festival, a flagship event that promotes local producers, has been cancelled. 

Southern Highlands Food and Wine Association president Mark Bourne said the event could not move forward since the association was yet to receive approval from Wingecarribee Shire Council for the festival to take place in the township of Berrima. 

"The Rural Fire Service signed off, NSW Water has signed off, we've also liaised with the people at NSW Parks and Reserves and our liquor license was approved. We were informed 10 days ago that our Development application (DA) had been called up for a full vote of council on August 8, which would only give the association an unrealistic seven weeks to produce the festival," said Mr Bourne. 

The annual food and wine festival has been held on the October long weekend at Corbett Gardens in Bowral for the past four years. According to Mr Bourne, council moved the date of Tulip Time to the same weekend at the same location "without discussion or consultation with the association." 

"The October long weekend is part of the attraction for the [food and wine] festival. We were forced to find a different location rather than change the date," he said. 

Council was contacted for comment in relation to the matter. 

A spokesman for council said the original Development Application for the proposed event was deficient in a number of areas, but had since been addressed by the applicant.

“Eight public submissions were received concerning the event,” they said.

“As a result of the number and content of submissions received, the Development Application was ‘called up’ on June 29 to be determined by full council instead of it being determined by council staff under delegated authority.

“The report has subsequently been listed to be considered by Council at the next Ordinary Meeting of July 25.” 

Former chair of the now defunct economic development and tourism committee, councillor Ian Scandrett said he was "embarrassed and disappointed to find that our processes have failed us." 

"In the six years I've been on council we've extensively worked with tourism and food and wine operators and then this happens," Mr Scandrett said. 

"I stand by my commitment to tourism as being the prime source of new jobs in this shire and yet, our focus on food and wine clusters as being the prime delivery of tourism clearly is not shared at council," he said. 

Mr Bourne said the association hoped to attract more than 8000 people to the Berrima township and economy over the October long weekend and was still seeking to find a solution. 

"It's quite devastating, it's the big event for the year but we're still looking for a solution. We've still got a week or two to come up with something," he said.