Stallholder: Why new venue for markets is so important

Stallholder Bruce Benson says Rockhampton residents will lose out if a new venue cannot be found for the Kern Arcade Markets.

The future of the popular weekly markets is uncertain after the shock announcement this month that the Kern Arcade would close in the New Year.

The last markets of 2020 were held on Sunday and they are now in a three-week recess over Christmas as co-ordinator Madonna McMullen continues her search for a new venue.

READ: Future of Kern Arcade Markets revealed amid closures

Mr Benson, from Benson Bananas near Yeppoon, has been selling his farm-fresh produce and other edibles at the markets for 20 years.

He said it would be bitterly disappointing for him - and his many loyal customers - if they did not continue.

He said customers were able to buy there some products which were not readily available elsewhere in the region, among them penang ducasse bananas and banana flowers.

The Kern Arcade in Rockhampton’s CBD is set to close in the New Year.
The Kern Arcade in Rockhampton’s CBD is set to close in the New Year.

Demand was at fever-pitch on Sunday morning, with a 30m long queue greeting Mr Benson as he set up his stall at the Bolsover St entrance to the markets.

He went on to sell 20 crates of bananas and 120kg of lychees.

“At this time of the year particularly, people are enthusiastic to come here to buy fresh produce,” he said.

“Our family does bananas mainly, though we don’t have many at the moment because we were burnt out in the fires last year, as well as lychees.

“We also sell our neighbours’ macadamias and a lot of other nuts as well that we buy in, including Australian walnuts from Leeton and Kingaroy peanuts.

“The thing is, if we don’t have these markets, we will have to adapt, which will likely mean sending our produce south.

“We will have no alternative and sadly, that means the people of Rockhampton miss out.”

Mr Benson said he would definitely be back if the markets resumed in Rockhampton, and he called on the community to get behind Ms McMullen in her quest to find them a new home.

Meanwhile, he would continue to have a stall at the Yeppoon Community Market on Saturdays.

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