PUMPKIN FEST SAVED: Generous donation keeps things rolling
FEAR not all you butternut bandits! This year's Goomeri Pumpkin Festival has been saved thanks to a very generous farming family from Bundaberg.
Goomeri Festival co-ordinator Kim Boyter said she was overjoyed to have a giant weight lifted from the committee's shoulders and was proud to announce the famous pumpkin festival would be in full swing this year, rain, hail or shine.
"Due to the unfortunate drought conditions the region's experienced over the last 12 months, our local pumpkin producer was unable to grow his usual crop for us so we had to put a call out for a back-up supplier this year," she said.
Fortunately for the festival committee, word travels fast along the pumpkin vine and within just a few short hours of getting the word out there, help was on the way.
"ABC Sunshine Coast picked up the story and ran a short radio interview with us this morning, and by 9.05am this morning we received word there was a producer in Bundaberg wanting to get in touch with us," Ms Boyter said.
"By 9.30am we had a done deal with the very generous Cross Family Farms, who have come on board and agreed to donate the 700-1000 pumpkins we need to host all the festival competitions."
The Cross family have been growing produce in Bundaberg for more than 20 years.
They are not only recognised as being one of the largest vegetable growers in Australia, but are also well known for their sustainable work practices and philanthropy.
Last year, the Cross family gifted 900 tonnes of produce (worth more than $1.2 million) to Foodbank to help people in need.
This year marks a first for the region and is a true sign of the times.
Ms Boyter said she didn't believe the festival had ever had to outsource its pumpkins in its 23-year history.
"I don't think conditions have ever been this severe before. I know there has been times where pumpkins have been scarce but our area had always had a good deal of growers, but gradually this has diminished leaving just one major grower as our supplier," she said.
But with last year's festival bringing somewhere between 18,000 and 20,000 people to town, the festival is easily one of the most 'fruitful' weekends in the South Burnett region, with every accommodation provider in Goomeri, Murgon and Kilkivan set to book out.
With the festival fast approaching on the last weekend of May, Ms Boyter said the next call-out would undoubtedly be for volunteers.
"We always need more volunteers and we'll be putting the feelers out over the next few months … Anyone who would like to get involved should contact our secretary at email@example.com," she said.
To stay up to date with all the Pumpkin Festival happenings, head to its Facebook page here.