THE MAR­KET THAT TRANS­FORMS A TOWN

North East Living Magazine - - Contents - words Tara Whitsed pho­tos Dale Mann

It may be a small com­mu­nity, but one day a month Vi­o­let Town swells with a sea of faces in the mar­ket for fun and countr y hospi­tal­ity.

VI­O­LET Town’s Kerry Wil­son laughed as she re­called the early days of set­ting up for the Vi­o­let Town Mar­ket.

She chuck­led and ex­plained how mem­bers of the orig­i­nal com­mit­tee would clev­erly col­lect the many tres­tle ta­bles for stall­hold­ers the day prior, leav­ing them just over the wall of the Vi­o­let Town Ho­tel.

“The next day on the morn­ing of the mar­ket they would throw the tres­tle ta­bles over the fence and set them up for the day,” she said.

Kerry had been the sec­re­tary of the Hon­ey­suckle Com­mu­nity Cen­tre (now Vi­o­let Town Ac­tion Group) when the mar­ket be­gan in 1978.

She said the com­mit­tee had looked at of­fer­ing dif­fer­ent things to the com­mu­nity and de­cided a mar­ket would be great for the town­ship.

Now packed with over 200 stalls on the sec­ond Satur­day of ev­ery month, the vi­brant mar­ket has be­come Vi­o­let Town’s claim to fame, and ar­guably one of the most pop­u­lar in Vic­to­ria’s North East.

Nes­tled just off the Hume High­way on Hon­ey­suckle Creek, the small com­mu­nity with a pop­u­la­tion of 1084 ac­com­mo­dates thou­sands more on mar­ket day, with stall­hold­ers trav­el­ling from as far as three hours away to sell their goods.

Cur­rent mar­ket co- or­di­na­tor Carolena Hel­der­man, who has been in the po­si­tion for around a year, said it was in­cred­i­ble a town the size of Vi­o­let Town could sup­port a mar­ket of its kind.

She, along with com­mit­tee chair­per­son Kate Stothers’ ( pic­tured right) tales of mar­ket prepa­ra­tion to­day, jux­ta­posed against times of yes­ter­year, demon­strated why the mar­ket has gone from strength to strength, tak­ing the com­mu­nity along with it.

“From my point of view, I thought the hand­ing on of jobs helped the mar­ket’s suc­cess,” Kerry said.

Kate and Carolena ex­plained that much of their work since com­ing on board had in­volved get­ting poli­cies up to scratch as well as mak­ing big changes to the mar­ket’s so­cial me­dia, ad­ver­tis­ing and brand­ing.

“We’ve got a lo­cal who’s de­signed a shed in the style of our new logo and who hopes to put it in his pad­dock fac­ing the Hume,” said Kate.

“The mar­ket has a his­tory and rep­u­ta­tion and it’s a mat­ter of what we put on top of that.”

Carolena said the feed­back she had re­ceived from stall­hold­ers was that with so many mar­kets, it had be­come a strug­gling en­vi­ron­ment.

“But they al­ways seem to re­port that Vi­o­let Town has the crowds,” she said.

The ladies dis­cussed strik­ing the cor­rect bal­ance be­tween stall­hold­ers; find­ing both lo­cals and those from away as well as an ar­ray of dif­fer­ent prod­ucts. “It can be quite tricky to strike a bal­ance,” Carolena said. Kerry, who has also run her Kerry Cof­fee stall at the mar­ket for the last 16 years, said Carolena and the cur­rent com­mit­tee mem­bers had done a great job in tak­ing no­tice of the stall­holder de­mo­graphic.

“They’ve gone to other mar­kets to see what we can get,” she said.

Kerry said the mar­ket had also im­proved the trade for many lo­cal busi­nesses on mar­ket day.

She said the ben­e­fits of em­ploy­ment were vast after the in­tro­duc­tion of a paid mar­ket co- or­di­na­tor salary.

“Monies raised by the mar­ket have also funded the Men’s Shed co- or­di­na­tor salary and there had been an in­crease of ca­sual work po­si­tions for lo­cals in Vi­o­let Town Ho­tel, Vi­o­let Town Cafe, and the su­per­mar­ket,” she said.

Hav­ing also com­pleted the tin-rat­tle sched­ule for the next two years, sev­eral com­mu­nity groups have and will ben­e­fit from the crowds swarm­ing to Vi­o­let Town on mar­ket day.

And with around 18-20 vol­un­teers still con­tribut­ing their time to the mar­ket it is clear it is an as­set to the town­ship and its peo­ple.

FA­MIL­IAR FACE / Well­known Ruffy iden­tity Taffy is a reg­u­lar at the Vi­o­let Town Mar­ket. He sells home­made wood and iron ob­jects and was re­cently fea­tured on the mar­ket’s new tele­vi­sion ad­vert.

QUIET AND QUAINT / Vi­o­let Town’s wide streets, which be­come a thriv­ing cen­tre on mar­ket days.

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