15 September 2023

Hartley Hall Markets celebrate 36 years of supporting Canberrans

| Travis Radford
Hartley Hall Markets

Hartley Hall Markets didn’t always resemble the bustling family day out it is today. Back in 1987, there were only 36 stalls. Photo: Hartley Lifecare.

Hartley Hall Markets has survived a recession and pandemic to reach its 36th anniversary. But there’s more to celebrate about the market than its longevity.

Few things have remained the same since the monthly home-made and homegrown goods market first crashed onto the scene in the late 1980s with a few dozen stalls and a lot of goodwill.

The market is now one of the largest in Australia, regularly attracting thousands of visitors to browse a diverse range of more than 150 stalls to a backdrop of live music and other entertainment.

One of the few things to remain unchanged from the inaugural 1987 market is the entry donation made to the Canberra-based not-for-profit behind the event, Hartley Lifecare.

The organisation provides supported independent living accommodation and short-term respite care to more than 100 clients with disabilities across almost 40 homes in the Canberra region.

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Hartley Lifecare CEO Eric Thauvette says the market’s gold coin donation (originally 20 cents in the 80s), stall fees and Hartley-run barbecues bring in up to $70,000 to $90,000 for the not-for-profit each year.

“The markets are crucial for us to have what I call the icing on the top,” Eric says. “Basically, funding for things that are not funded through the NDIS or other means.

“That could be outings, weekends away or little holidays that we’re able to provide, tickets to special shows [and] different things that people might not be able to afford.

“It helps our fleet of vehicles we need to support people with disabilities and in the past it’s helped support our respite care, which is now fully funded by the NDIS.”

Hartley Hall Markets volunteer in hi-vis at the markets

Tony Morris has been volunteering for Hartley Hall Markets for almost as long as the markets have existed. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The second pillar to remain unchanged since the long-running market’s inception is its rural venue of Hall Showground on Canberra’s northern outskirts.

While a 100 by 70-metre field 10 kilometres north of the city may have appeared too remote or too big for the first market’s 36 stalls, it proved to be a prudent choice.

“It became a really, really iconic market,” Eric says. “It’s in a rural area which is really nice and leafy and makes for a great day out for families and well behaved dogs on leashes.”

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The market is made possible by a small army of volunteers, including Tony Morris, part of the local progress association which accepted Hartley’s request to hold the market at the showground.

“I’ve loved to see it grow from nothing to a major event,” he says. “It’s just lovely to see people enjoying themselves and to work with people that enjoy making that happen.”

The market is currently looking for more volunteers ahead of what’s expected to be a busy period approaching summer. It’s a vocation Tony highly recommends.

“It’s a great, fun time,” he says. “You don’t have to volunteer all day, you can volunteer for a short period of time or you can nominate your own preference.

“My wife and I and a couple of others park up to 2000 cars over the day and there’s others that work on barbecues or give out information.

“I would welcome any new volunteers that come along and we’d be pleased to have them as part of the volunteer family.”

The Hartley Hall Markets is on the first Sunday of every month, from 10 am to 3 pm, at Hall Showground, Victoria Street, Hall. The next markets will be on Sunday 1 October, Sunday 5 November and a special Christmas market on Sunday 3 December. To register as a stallholder or volunteer or to find out more, visit the Hartley Lifecare website.

Original Article published by Travis Radford on Riotact.


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