HAVEN market will celebrate its 10th anniversary next month.
Market co-ordinator Sue Exell said it had been a long but rewarding journey to reach the milestone.
“What started it all was a community Christmas at the Haven Recreation Reserve in 2006,” she said.
“We’d received some drought funding to put on this event and bought a barbecue. It was really well supported by the community.”
Mrs Exell said the itinerant nature of what was then the Horsham markets had prompted her to approach council and offer Haven as a more permanent solution.
“Council initially agreed to a three-month trial from February to April 2007,” she said.
“They were really successful and council decided to give us permanent approval to run the markets, along the way raising money for the reserve.”
Mrs Exell said the market celebrated its first birthday in February 2008, but in its second year came close to disaster.
“The February 2009 market was on the same day as the Black Saturday bushfires,” she said.
“The markets opened as usual at 7am but by about 10am it was starting to get really windy. A lot of marquees were flapping and a few people decided to start packing up. Some of those marquees take a couple of hours to pack up, but by midday everyone had gone.
“About 1pm I started to smell smoke and not long after embers started to rain down on the hall’s roof.”
With fire surrounding the reserve, Mrs Exell said it was a miracle the hall and nearby Haven school survived.
“It probably helped that quite a few tankers were filling up nearby and as they came in they’d spray the roof of the hall,” she said.
“Virtually everything surrounding the hall, all the gardens and the playground, was burnt.”
Despite the damage to the reserve, the March market went ahead as scheduled.
The February 2010 market became a chance for Haven residents to reflect on the Black Saturday bushfires a year earlier and also celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Haven community.
“We received funding for that market and had a free concert, a wine and cheese tasting and the new school opening as well,” Mrs Exell said.
Mrs Exell said the market was an opportunity for Wimmera artisans to sell their products, but was also an important social gathering.
“It gives people a reason to come and talk – to catch up with their neighbours,” she said.
“I’d hate for the market to disappear because of what it represents and what it means for the community.”