AFTER two one-off markets in the 1970’s, the first Bellingen Community Market was held in December, 1980.
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Because of the efforts of dedicated local citizens over the years, ‘Bello Markets’ is now one of the oldest, largest, and most diverse markets on the east coast, with over 200 stalls, delicious food and great music.
Thousands of people flock to Bellingen on market weekends to shop, socialise and enjoy what the town has to offer.
In early 1984 the market moved to Church St, on the western side of Bellingen Park and, by 1989, the growth to more than 100 stalls resulted in expansion into its current area.
By December 1990, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Bellingen Market was ranked in the top four markets in Australia.
After costs are taken out, the proceeds from each month’s market are donated back into the local community.
Over the last 35 years, charities, community groups, schools and not-for-profit organisations have benefited from the more than one hundred thousand dollars that has been raised.
The Manager of the Bellingen Markets, Kaz Selbie, and her colleagues begin work at 5:30am on market day and finish towards 4pm.
They help stall holders set up, collect fees and generally supervise the markets.
Kaz’s ‘office’ is constantly buzzing with a never-ending stream of walkie talkie messages and walk-in queries from market patrons.
The market day staff has expanded from 13 to 23 because of the extra work required to be COVID safe.
Stall holder fees have been increased slightly to compensate and, according to Kaz, stall holders are very understanding.
Patrons are generally very good at following COVID safe signs and directions.
In addition to the diversity of stalls, Kaz attributes the market’s continuing success to the scenic setting, under the large trees, planted 40 years ago by Dr. Hewitt, the friendly people who come and the attraction of Bellingen itself.
Kaz said that planned for December 19, “We have a lot of local entertainment, including Gumbaynggirr dancers and support from community groups.”
She said that Bello kombi tours will shuttle visitors for $2 to and from parking areas and a professional photographer will operate a photo booth to take free commemorative photos.
Bellingen Markets is the place to be on the third Saturday of December.
By Andrew VIVIAN