Craft Markets Australia History
In 1974, four couples at a dinner party in Red Hill shared a romantic original idea of a market for local people to sell or barter their seasonal produce, as well as providing an outlet for crafts and foods.
Carole Stapleton and Cathy Thompson, two of the directors, were at that dinner. The idea took hold and over months of discussion, the concept of a market where people had to have made, cooked or grown whatever they wanted to sell or barter evolved.
The initial advertising was mainly through screenprinted posters nailed to trees and power poles all over the area. It worked. In September 1975 the first market took place with 28 enthusiastic stallholders at the Red Hill Mechanics Hall.
This little bunch, as well as the expected goodies, was offering anything from chooks in pens, to bags of horse manure for sale or barter and it captured the imagination of the huge crowd that arrived.
The market overflowed into the street and in this era of flower power, hippies handed people spring daffodils and boronia. It was a 'Feelgood market' from the first.
In addition to the Red Hill Market, Cathy and Carole with their husbands, as directors of Craft Markets Australia, now run five other highly successful craft markets, including two more on the Mornington Peninsula each with over 300 stalls - Balnarring Emu Plains Market(market no longer running) and the Mornington Racecourse Market.
Off the peninsula they organise the Healesville Racecourse Harvest and Craft Market (formerly Yarra Glen Racecourse Market for the past 12 years), the Flemington Racecourse Market and also the Werribee Craft and Produce Market. They also now operate 'A Day Out at Lardner Park' market in west gippsland four times a year.
Over the years these markets have become a monthly meeting place for people from all walks of life as there's a marvellous variety of food to sample in a cheerful atmosphere and an extraordinarily wide selection of high quality crafts to view or purchase.
It's been the careful selection of stallholders involved only with high quality crafts, wares and produce that has given these markets the reputation they richly deserve.
The original concept has been carried through all these markets.