YAMBA River Markets look set to stay in the hands of current not-for-profit operators for the next three years.
Live Prawn Productions, which started the markets in Ford Park in 2008 as a fundraiser for the Surfing the Coldstream Festival, looked like missing out on a new licence.
Paul and Valma Ryan, who operate the Iluka Markets, submitted a tender which council officers recommended for approval at $500 per market plus electricity.
However, impassioned speeches by both the current co-ordinator and two community groups at Tuesday's round of committee meetings attracted the sympathy of councillors.
Between $12-$13,000 raised from the markets goes to the Surfing the Coldstream Festival.
Co-ordinator Gary Brisbane said the markets were a real community event.
"We have an open-door policy where anybody can set up a stand as long as they fit between guidelines of community acceptance," Mr Brisbane told councillors.
He asked them to defer the decision to allow Live Prawn Productions to respond to financial concerns raised by council officers.
Cath Clark from RiverSong Community Choir of Yamba said she was worried her singing group would not be able to perform if the markets were run by a private enterprise.
"The success of the Yamba markets is because it's run by a dedicated, not-for-profit committee and volunteers who believe in community," she said.
Cr Karen Toms immediately moved to approve the licence for Live Prawn Productions for $195 per market plus $55 for electricity.
Cr Jason Kingsley asked whether it left the council open to any legal comeback from the Ryans, but deputy general manager Rob Donges said the council had the right to make the ultimate decision.
The decision will need to be given the final tick of approval at next week's ordinary meeting.
Mr Ryan declined to talk to The Daily Examiner.