Rotary winds up community markets after 33 years

IT’S been labelled an institution of Orange but the closure of the Orange community markets after 33 years, and almost $1.3 million raised, did not come as a surprise to one stallholder.

Dwindling crowds led to a drop in stallholders and the difficult decision was made by the Rotary Club of Orange to cancel the long-running markets.

Held in the Kmart car park on Sundays since 1981 until they moved to Robertson Park last December, the markets  were first known as trash and treasure.

They gave stallholders like Ken Fishpool the opportunity to sell home-made items, bric-a-brac and produce.

Mr Fishpool has been a market stalwart for the last decade, selling his hand-crafted rocking horses and woodwork.

While not surprised at the closure Mr Fishpool said it was a “sad day” for market stallholders and the community.

“The economy has been bad for the last few years, there’s no money around,” he said.

“It’s a sad day, for a lot of us it’s an opportunity for people with produce to sell, it’s almost an institution.”

Mr Fishpool said there were now no opportunities for producers and craftsmen like himself to sell their items on a regular basis.

“[Other markets are] intermittent rather than consistent,” he said.

“They’ll have to look for other markets or even travel out of town.”

Rotary Club of Orange president Len Banks said a range of factors led to the decision to cancel the markets.

“Over the last five years the dynamic of markets have changes and schools are having markets and a lot of community groups,” he said.

“Shopping habits have changed and a lot of people don’t want to wait until Sunday to buy their apples.

“The necessity for public liability insurance has made having a market stall less attractive for casual stall holders and more expensive for stallholders and operators alike.”

Throughout their 33 years of operation the markets have helped out countless individuals, charities and schools.

Funds raised have helped sponsor students in leadership programs, at science camps, youth activities as well as relief for bushfire victims.

“Over $100,000 has gone into the Western Care Lodge and that’s goes to help so many people,” Mr Banks said.

“Some of our money goes internationally to help out whenever there’s been a major disaster.”

Mr Banks said he hopes one day the markets may return following consultation with the community, stallholders and interested parties.

“We didn’t want it to continue and die a slow death where if we stop it now we can revitalise it,” he said.

“We’d really like to thank the support of the people that have patronised the market over the years.”

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