Event failed to support local business'

By Don Farmer, don.farmer@age.co.nz

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Wairarapa food vendors are outraged over being shut out of Wings Over Wairarapa in favour of an out-of-district caterer, who they claim grossed $200,000 at the event.

John Mills, spokesman for Wairarapa Food Vendors, said the airshow's organisers failed to support local businesses by letting the contract for supplying food to Baxters Catering of Wellington.

He said district councils in Wairarapa had contributed to Wings Over Wairarapa, and the councils had featured in radio advertising campaigns supporting local business.

The food vendor's organisation has challenged Wings Over Wairarapa and Masterton District Council to explain why local vendors were not included.

Masterton Mayor Garry Daniell acknowledged receipt of a letter and referred it to Wings Over Wairarapa for a response.

Wings Over Wairarapa chairman Bob Francis said yesterday that allowing Baxters to supply food was strictly a business decision.

It had guaranteed the organisation a return of around $20,000 and had to be seen in the context of the overall running costs of the airshow, he said.

"Along with Destination Wairarapa we are looking at the economic impact on the region of Wings.

"It has brought a multi-million dollar benefit to Wairarapa when things like accommodation, restaurants, cafes and petrol sales are considered," Mr Francis said.

He said the budget for staging Wings Over Wairarapa was $960,000 and the committee had to shoulder major risks such as a dependency on the weather. "We had to make the event financially viable and to get a lot of money at the front end," Mr Francis said.

Wairarapa Food Vendors would again be considered as suppliers next time the airshow was being planned, he said.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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