Keep­ing up the town halls

Joe Avis talks run­ning the Monto mar­kets

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE - Jack Lawrie Jack.Lawrie@cnbtimes.com.au

JOE Avis has helped run mar­kets for Monto’s com­mu­nity halls for nearly a decade now but wor­ries it may soon be time to throw in the towel.

As pres­i­dent of the Mulgildie Hall Society, Joe helped fund the sec­ond lot of mar­kets to raise money for the Ban­croft Hall af­ter the idea was orig­i­nally tried and tested for Mun­gungo Hall in Septem­ber by Jackie Brown and Lyn Tay­lor in 2007.

“They came to us and said they wanted to raise money for the halls, and we said it was a good idea and we helped get that off the ground,” Mr Avis said.

“We had four halls and did two mar­kets a year to raise money, once a month.

“It was good, too, for a cou­ple of years. All the peo­ple from Monto trav­elled to all the different mar­kets.”

The com­mu­nity halls each re­quire roughly a thou­sand dol­lars a year in pub­lic li­a­bil­ity in­sur­ance costs, ne­ces­si­tat­ing com­mu­nity in­volve­ment to keep them main­tained.

Since the mar­kets started, Moon­ford Hall was sold and Ban­croft had closed, leav­ing Mulgildie and Mun­gungo as the only com­mu­nity halls left prof­it­ing from the mar­kets.

Af­ter the ini­tial burst of en­thu­si­asm when the mar­kets be­gan, Mr Avis said in­ter­est had started to die off.

“We only have one mar­ket for the halls a year now, when there used to be two,” Mr Avis said.

“The mar­kets haven’t been go­ing good either. We were go­ing to close them but the peo­ple want them to keep go­ing.”

Mr Avis said, per­son­ally, he had lit­tle hope things would im­prove for the hall mar­kets.

How­ever, he be­lieved mar­kets held in ar­eas where tourists were likely to pass through, such as Lions Park in Monto, would re­main prof­itable.

“The lo­cals don’t sup­port them much at all – they know what’s on of­fer now,” Mr Avis said.

“But we get our best trade in winter in the Lions Park when all the tourists are trav­el­ling through.”

The mar­kets are or­gan­ised and pro­moted by Monto res­i­dent Anita Dent.

Even when not or­gan­is­ing the mar­kets per­son­ally, Joe and his wife Lyle are al­ways ea­ger to con­trib­ute their own items for sale.

“I do all the cook­ing and clean­ing up af­ter them,” Mrs Avis said. “But I also do cro­cheted rugs and dressed dolls to sell.”

Pot plants and cro­cheted goods are pop­u­lar mar­ket items, although Joe claims the best-sell­ing items these days are the home-made jams and pas­tries.

“The tourists mainly chase food or stuff to rep­re­sent Monto,” Mr Avis said.

“They don’t want craft­work be­cause then they have to carry them, so they go for food and pro­duce and things they can use.

“We sold home-made scones and date loaves at the last mar­ket and they sold out fast.”

We were go­ing to close them, but the peo­ple want them to keep go­ing. — Joe Avis

PHOTO: JACK LAWRIE

FRIENDS OF THE HALL: Joe and Lyle Avis have been a fix­ture of the com­mu­nity hall mar­kets at Monto since the be­gin­ning.

PHOTO: JACK LAWRIE

Joe be­gan or­gan­is­ing mar­kets at Mulgildie Hall in Novem­ber 2007.

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