Keeping up the town halls
Joe Avis talks running the Monto markets
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
FRIENDS OF THE HALL: Joe and Lyle Avis have been a fixture of the community hall markets at Monto since the beginning.
Joe began organising markets at Mulgildie Hall in November 2007.