TWO high profile local charity workers are highlighting the need for a permanent structure for the Sale Sunday Charity Variety Market barbecue, amid fears the market could close or be taken over by commercial interests if it doesn’t get the home it needs.
Chris Lyon, who volunteers with Sale Fire Brigade, Sale Scout Group and Sale Ambulance Auxiliary, said the barbecue and market had raised more than $300,000 to support local charities since its inception more than 40 years ago.
While volunteering on behalf of the ambulance auxiliary at this month’s market in the barbecue tent, Mr Lyon said it again became clear a permanent structure was needed.
“This small band of dedicated volunteers, along with their helpers, have got up at 4am every third Sunday of each month for the last 40 years to set up the catering area and assemble the variety of stall holders for the iconic event we all know as the Sale Sunday Market,” he said.
The volunteers currently set up on a concrete slab.
It is a huge task to erect the large tent and transport tables, barbecues, food, utensils, bowls, cutting boards, water, a caravan, cool room, slicers and graters and much more to the site.
Mr Lyon said recently the small committee of the market made approaches to Wellington Shire Council to have a fit-for-use building erected at the Sunday market site at a suitable location on the land were the market is held.
“In these modern times it is way past expecting this group to have to get up at 4am, then assist setting up a large tent and all the food preparation for the day in a tent,” he said.
“It is time that we help them — they are not getting any younger.”
Another high profile charity worker and recent Rotary Paul Harris Fellow recipient, Yvonne Clavarino, who volunteers her time with Five Star, Central Gippsland Health and Sale Ambulance Auxiliary, supported Mr Lyon’s comments.
“I couldn’t agree more,” she said.
“It’s time this group received the recognition and assistance it so fully deserves.”
Mrs Clavarino said she had nominated the market volunteers two years ago for a community award, but they were unsuccessful.
“It’s time the amazing job they do for our community is recognised,” she said.
“They are a group of seniors with a lot more get up and go then some people half their age.
“Let’s get right behind this and support them all the way.”
One of the Sunday market coordinators, Angela McKie, who has volunteered her time for 25 years, said council had given the nod to a site for a structure, which was wonderful news, but there was still much work to do, including planning and finding the money for the project.
She said she was in her late 60s and her husband Stuart was aged 70, and setting up the barbecue site, albeit with the help of some more able-bodied volunteers, had become an increasingly onerous task.
Another co-ordinator, Mary Templeton, has been on the job for 38 years.
Mrs McKie said it was getting to the point where if they weren’t able to get a permanent structure, the market faced the prospect of closing.
“And if someone else does take over, it won’t be for a charitable purpose,” she added.
Now, with a site available, things are looking up. Mrs McKie hopes for a structure with running water and electricity, refrigerators and adequate storage for everything.
This would be where the barbecue would operate from, and drinks and hotdogs, currently sold from a van, would also be sold from the building.
Such a structure would provide shelter for volunteer workers.
“We haven’t had such a good year with the weather this year,” she said.
“We’re down there at 4am setting up in the dark — then it rains.
“Then we think, why do we bother?”
She said until the announcement that a site was available to build on, the volunteers had been “all getting a bit downhearted about the whole thing”.
The market had its beginnings more than four decades ago when four women set up a card table selling sandwiches and knick-knacks.
It has now grown to more than 200 stalls in the summer months, with some stallholders even journeying from interstate for what is now one of the biggest markets in Gippsland.
Mrs McKie said in addition to supporting local charities, the market patrons and stallholders brought business to the town through accommodation and meals, and was an important community event.