The “Markets Under the Stars” in Batlow will begin next month (2 December), as the town begins its economic recovery following the devastation of the Black Summer bushfires last year.
The markets are a collaboration between local groups Do it for Batlow and Shine Your Lyght, who were both looking to start a market in Batlow before coming into contact with one another.
Do it for Batlow aims to drive projects and push the town’s development after it experienced bushfires that were so bad, it was described by firefighters as “undefendable”.
President of the group Max Gordon-Hall owned one of the 26 Batlow houses destroyed by the Black Summer fires. He says that the pandemic brought to a halt many of the recovery activities planned in the wake of the fires.
“Immediately after the fires, there was this sense of community spirit. Everyone wanted to get out, everyone wanted to band together and just help rebuild and get through,” said Mr Gordon-Hall.
“As we all know, the pandemic hit and basically put a stop to any activities that we would plan or try and do into the future. Everything was put on the back-burner at the time, but now that the pandemic is lifting, we thought why not try and start where we left off.”
It’s been some time since Batlow had its own markets and the gap between them has done nothing but add to the excitement within the community.
“The town itself is definitely looking forward to it,” said Mr Gordon-Hall.
“Batlow used to have markets many many moons ago, so we’re restarting something that the town already knows about and they’re all definitely looking forward to it.”
“There’s a great vibe around town and people are excited to see what local produce can come to the markets, what local vendors will come and listen to some live music and just relax after what they’ve all been through.”
The other party involved is magazine distributor Shine Your Lyght, which also runs a Summer Nights market in Victoria.
Owner Daryl Toms is planning on relocating to Batlow in the near future and is passionate about what the markets could mean for the small town.
“The fact that Batlow hasn’t recovered at all, we wanted to try and build markets or something that not only draws customers in from everywhere but brings people in to do business in the town too,” said Mr Toms.
“The idea was to make it a win-win. I cover my costs and fees from running the market but a good percentage of all the stallholder fees go back to Do it for Batlow.”
“That was the whole priority of putting it together with the team there,” he said.
At this stage, Snowy Valleys Council has approved two markets in December – 2 December and 16 December, and two markets in January, with the option for it to become a monthly market beyond January if things are going well.
While the economic benefits are a major inspiration for the markets, Mr Toms said another was that he wanted to bring outsiders into Batlow.
“Often when people visit a country town they’ll like it so much they won’t want to leave,” said Mr Toms
“It makes me feel ‘I want to go there because I’ve never heard 0f that’ and it makes you want to go explore.”
“To me, that’s why I wanted to do these markets because I want people to come and explore the little towns. The towns that don’t get big dollars for funding like Wagga or Griffith, Orange and Dubbo,” he said.
The first markets will run from 3 pm to 8 pm on 2 December. At the moment, they have about 20 stallholders from around regional NSW. To inquire about booking a stall of your own, head to the SYL Markets Under The Stars Facebook page.