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07 October 2020
By SARAH MATTHEWS
Wimmera residents and visitors made the most of an opportunity to browse, buy and socialise as the region hosted its first spring markets for the year.
Thousands of people welcomed an easing of COVID-19 restrictions to attend markets at Haven on Saturday and Dimboola on Sunday.
Dimboola Store owners John and Alex O’Halloran celebrated a successful launch of their Jellex Market – named for a 1950s’ Jellex Jelly Crystals mural at the site – with more than 2000 people through the gates.
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Mr O’Halloran said the inaugural boutique artisan market was ‘massive’.
“The food stalls all sold out. The hot-jam donut lady started selling at 9am and was sold out by 11am,” he said.
“I was taking down contact details at the gate and we had people from Kaniva, Horsham, Murtoa – they came from everywhere.
“We had a lot of young families, groups of friends using the market as a venue to catch up and there were also a lot of long-term locals.
“Some of them have mobility issues and use scooters or walkers, but because of the flat ground, it was accessible to everyone.
“Many of the locals commented how amazed they were by the amount of people in the town. They likened it to the amount of people around on grand-
final day, after the football game.”
Mr O’Halloran said people lined up to enter the market square, with separate entry and exit points helping ensure appropriate physical distancing.
“It’s a boutique market so it’s not a market you’re going to spend five hours at,” he said.
“It’s the kind of market you come to, see what you want to see, buy what you want to buy, have a chat and move on to other areas.
“The police came and were extremely happy with the crowd’s behaviour and social distancing.”
Dimboola police officer, First Constable Georgie Schirmer, told The Weekly Advertiser on Sunday she was impressed by the day’s proceedings.
“The local police are really happy with how everyone is sticking to the rules and regulations,” she said.
“The market organisers have been fantastic with how they’ve set it up and how they’re regulating it. We couldn’t be happier with the behaviour – everyone is complying well.”
Mr O’Halloran said the event provided a boost for the town in general, with marketgoers also patronising other businesses throughout Dimboola.
“At Dimboola Store, we had our biggest day of trade ever,” he said.
“There was just a good feeling around. The stallholders all said they had a wonderful day and it has given me the drive to organise another one.”
The O’Hallorans have pencilled in the next Jellex Market for November 1 and have invited potential stallholders to put in an expression of interest.
“All the stallholders we had know they need to put in an expression of interest to attend the next one,” Mr O’Halloran said.
“This allows us to maintain a range of interests and to share opportunities around. We will have limited stalls, but they will be quality ones.”
People can message Dimboola Store’s Facebook page for information.
Haven Market committee members are also working towards a November event after a busy day of trading on Saturday.
Organisers hosted a market in July amid an easing of COVID-19 restrictions but had held off on running further events due to tighter regulations.
Sunny conditions and an opportunity for socialisation bought the Horsham and wider community out in force, with hordes of people descending on Haven Recreation Reserve.
About 60 stallholders sold their wares at the market and were greeted by plenty of shoppers enjoying a return to ‘some normalilty’.
Committee member Sue Exell said Saturday’s Haven Market was its biggest to date.
“If we weren’t in COVID times, I would have been absolutely thrilled,” she said.
“There were way more people than I thought there ever would be and that created a few issues, such as we had to try to keep people moving and reminding them to keep their distance.
“We are just a small committee running small events, so even though we had done a lot of planning, we will need more manpower to run another one.”
Mrs Exell said the committee had sought feedback from police officers on site and would meet with Horsham Rural City Council staff to discuss options ahead of the November market.
“The police were really good and gave us some ideas for next time,” she said.
“We’d love to do another market as long as we can keep everyone safe. It was absolutely wonderful to see so many people out and about enjoying the day.
“There were a lot of young families and so many smiles on people’s faces. That part was really lovely.
“It was also wonderful for the stallholders who have been looking for an opportunity to sell their produce, but haven’t been able to.
“There were a lot of positives – now we just need to look at how we can make it better.”
The next Haven Market is scheduled for November 7.
Mrs Exell said while planning was underway, the event would depend on COVID-19 restrictions and whether the council believed it was safe to go ahead.
“Looking forward, if we can do the November market we will look at better parking and getting cars off the road, more food and we will look to open up some more space,” she said.
“Everyone has given us a lot to think about and we are keen to do what we can to continue our markets but also make sure they are safe for everyone involved.”
The entire October 7, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!