Ballarat swap meet: it's all over

BALLARAT’S Super Southern Swap Meet — the largest of its kind in Australia — is no more.The swap meet which attracts 30,000 people to the city, and has been held annually at the Ballarat Airport for 22 years, has ceased operation.In an unexpected move, regular site holders were advised in writing yesterday by event organisers that the swap meet would not be held any more.Ballarat City Council, which leases the airport site for the event, is shocked by the decision and says there was no indication from organisers that they would abandon the event.Chief executive officer Anthony Schinck said the council had been in negotiations regarding the lease of the site last year, but had heard little from the organisers for about six months.The two-year lease with Super Swap Promotions Pty Ltd was due to expire, although there was an option for a third year on the contract.“We are at a loss as to why the event has ceased,’’ Mr Schinck said.“We are disappointed the operators have made the decision and we will be encouraging the operators to rethink their position as soon as we can.” Mr Schinck said the fact the operators made the decision without council consultation was alarming.“We can overcome any requirements and we can work through everything,” he said.In the past the event, last held in February, has attracted visitors from throughout the country and overseas.More than 2300 sites were available each year, which had been sold out well in advance of the event in recent years.Of those site holders was John Parker, a Melbourne man who had been selling motorbike parts for 18 years.He received the notification letter yesterday and said it would be a huge loss for Ballarat.Mr Parker said he had met visitors from New Zealand and England who would come out for the event.“I’d spend $500 in the town and I’m just one of thousands of people who would flock there,” he said.Mr Schinck said the council had tried to contact the organisers yesterday but was unsuccessful.He said the council would continue to try and have discussions with the organisers as soon as possible.In the letter, it states the only possible form of communication with the organisers is by mail.“The swap meet is synonymous for Ballarat, it is one of the things we are known for. It’s a great economic and tourism generator for the city,” Mr Schinck said.The Courier was unable to contact the organisers.

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