THE Berry Country Fair is an enjoyable day of bargain hunting and bumping into friends but the event recently revealed its dark side.
Formerly known as the Berry Market, it has become the catalyst for division among some residents in the town.
The South Coast Register was tipped off to the controversy by a source in the town who asked not be named.
Other residents involved in community groups were contacted but they too were either fearful of being named or simply said, “You don’t want to do a story about that” and hung up the phone.
The Berry Country Fair has been run by the Berry Community Activity Centre (BCAC) for about 25 years.
Profits from the event are passed on to charities and organisations throughout the Shoalhaven each year.
One of the residents told the Register they thought since the money was raised in Berry it should be spent in Berry.
They believed if a different organisation such as Rotary were to run the fair they might be more inclined to keep the funds in Berry.
Word had spread around the town that the renewal for the right to run the market was coming up in November.
Those who wanted to nominate another group to take over the market would have the chance to do so then.
However, in June the BCAC applied to Shoalhaven City Council for a five-year extension on its development application to continue the event at the Berry Showground.
The extension was granted. The previous extension was granted in 2010.
One Berry resident who was willing to put his name to his opinion was Morris Pepper.
“The Berry market is the biggest event that happens in the town and it seems odd that there wasn’t any community consultation about renewing the DA,” he said.
“A meeting was called [it was held last night] because some people thought it would be a good idea to have a discussion about the market before the DA was extended.”
Mr Pepper questioned the speed with which council approved the DA.
“It was lodged on June 17 and approved on June 21. That would have to be some sort of a record,” he said.
Council’s development manager Robert Russell said the DA extension was issued by the assessing officer on the basis that no problems had been raised with council in the past three years.
He said development consent was only part of the overall equation.
Mr Russell said the consent related to the land and did not affect which organisation ran the event.
“It comes back to the community and all those groups. They are in the town and they are the best people to sort it out,” he said.