Award winner ‘humbled’ to receive citizen of the year
The 2021 South Burnett Australia Day Awards ceremony was held in Wondai on Saturday (January 24), with numerous community members recognised for their outstanding contribution to the South Burnett community.
Kingaroy's Katheryn Stevens was awarded citizen of the year for her dedication to BaconFest and her tireless work in the community.
Mrs Stevens said to win the award among so many incredible nominees was humbling.
"It was pretty humbling, there were nine other nominees all equally as worthy," she said.
"It was a little bit unexpected to be announced as the recipient. Obviously BaconFest is something I am really proud of so to be acknowledged for all that hard work and effort to get it off the ground and the other little things I do in the community was a real honour.
"So many people in the South Burnett work incredibly hard for this community and spend 1000s of hours volunteering, so just sitting in that ceremony yesterday and listening to the 70+ nominees and their stories makes me incredibly proud to be part of such a vibrant and giving community."
BaconFest celebrates the story of the South Burnett and has grown into one of the year's biggest events, drawing tourists from all over Queensland and pumping vital funds into the local economy.
What started off as just an idea, has become a passion project according to Mrs Stevens who said the event brings in a lot of tourists and helps local businesses.
"When I was on maternity leave with my eldest, I came up with an idea to create an event that spreads some positivity around town, becomes an excuse for people to visit the South Burnett and tells its story in the broader Australian media," Mrs Stevens sad.
"Another aim was to inject some economic benefit into the community and I know a number of local businesses have benefited from it. When we held it in 2018 and 2019 we also generated some money for drought affected farmers.
"It's a real privilege to have an idea like that and be surrounded by a community who also thinks it's a good idea and works incredibly hard to make it happen. Not often you have an idea come to life like that."
Mrs Stevens relocated from Brisbane to the South Burnett with her husband ten years ago after a career in journalism and public relations.
She balances working at St John's in Kingaroy two days a week, studying to become a primary school teacher, raising her two kids Annabelle and William and helping run BaconFest.
Mrs Stevens said the longer she stays in the South Burnett the harder it becomes to leave.
"I think the South Burnett is a beautiful spot and a really easy place to live, right from the moment we moved here the friendly nature of the people was a huge draw card for us," she said.
"When we first moved here one of the local servos was giving away free zucchinis to anyone who bought petrol because a local farmer had grown to many, which we thought was so lovely.
"Our region has so much potential to continue to grow, we are just short of three hours from Brisbane and the coast, we are pretty fortunate in where we live."