By Helen Randell
Whether it’s a warm summer’s day, or a misty winter’s morning, the Stirling Market in the Adelaide Hills is a popular place to be on the fourth Sunday of each month.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the market, and Richard James, chair of the Stirling Market Committee, attributes its success to the support of locals, and the strong philosophy on which the market is founded.
‘Make it. Bake it. Grow it. Sew it.’ is the catchcry for those wanting to have a stall and sell their wares, and the basic premise is that local people are there to sell things they have produced themselves.
“Visitors want to buy things that have been made or grown in the local area,” Richard says. “Being able to talk directly to the person who has ‘made it, baked it, grown it, or sewn it’ is absolutely priceless.”
This strong sense of ownership, enthusiasm and passion by the stallholders for their goods spills over to the many local, interstate and overseas visitors to the market. Although difficult to accurately assess, Richard estimates that around 4–5000 patrons visit on each market day.
About 60% of the stallholders reside in the Adelaide Hills, with another 10% coming from the surrounding regions. The stallholder fees are modest, which allows budding artisans and growers a chance to establish themselves.
“Several of our stallholders have become very successful and have made their way onto bigger and better things,” Richard says. “It is very satisfying to see young talent succeed.”
An important part of the market’s identity is that all committee members are volunteers, and that the net funds from the stall fees are returned to the community via a grants program.
Local schools, sporting clubs, and other worthy groups from the Adelaide Hills Council area have received funding for their activities and special projects. The committee also embraced the Adelaide Hills Sculpture Trail, commissioning a sculpture as a way of thanking the local community for their continued support. The sculpture by Jocelyn Pratt is called Journeys and is located at the corner of Stirling’s Main Street and Druid Avenue.
More recently the market donated to the new RSL soldier’s monument in Stirling. This year over $30,000 will be donated to worthwhile community projects with a significant donation of $11,500 to the CFS units within the Adelaide Hills Council area.
“Our philosophy hasn’t changed much over the past 30 years,” Richard says. “Yes, we have grown and improved, but the basic premise is still the same. It’s a bit of a cliché, but one of the reasons we are still here is ‘location, location, location’.
“Stirling village is outstanding, we are just six minutes from the tollgate, and situated on Druid Avenue we are canopied by the promenade of grand oak trees which provide shade in the summer, glorious colour in the autumn and allow the sun to shine through in winter.
“Market day is always vibrant with music, friendly chatter and laughter. The myriad of stalls keep visitors busy and involved, ensuring that the Stirling Market is a ‘must visit again’ destination.”
The next Stirling Market will be held on Sunday, March 24. Events to celebrate the 30th anniversary will be held throughout the year.
Main image features the Stirling Market Committee’s Richard James and Kalila Stewart-Davis alongside the ‘Journeys’ sculpture.
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