Country markets mark a successful 36 years

Members of Sleaford Country Market celebrate 36 years in business. EMN-141014-151153001
Members of Sleaford Country Market celebrate 36 years in business. EMN-141014-151153001

There was a birthday celebration last week for an organisation that has been running in the town for 36 years.

Sleaford Country Markets are held fortnightly on Fridays in the hall at the rear of Sleaford Riverside Church off Southgate.

They started out under the banner of the Women’s Institute Markets but separated as the profits conflicted with the WI’s charitable status.

Since then they have broken away from the WI, as part of a network of similar markets across the country.

Ann Firth was the Sleaford Country Market’s founder and fellow founder member Madeline Wright is the current chairman of the group.

Mrs Wright explained: “I never went out to work because my husband needed me at home for his business so I called this my paid hobby. I make decorated cakes as a hobby and I love doing this as the customers are lovely.”

The markets are a co-operative of craftspeople and home producers making everything from home baked cakes and jams to knitwear, jewellery, decorated glass, calendars and bookmarks, leather goods and fresh vegetables - all at competitive keen prices.

Apart from the pitch fee, the rest goes back to the stallholders.

Refreshments and lunches are also provided from the on site kitchen and it proves very popular with local residents, many do not get out very much and treat it as a social activity to meet up with friends.

Mrs Wright said: “We get a lot of people who live on their own as they can buy individually rather than having to buy six at a time from shops. I have had a lady who has come in for years for a lemon meringue pie and some lemon curd tarts.”

To celebrate 36 years, Mrs Wright baked a birthday cake and members cut it and shared it out among the many regulars visiting.

She said: “Currently we are on the borderline of struggling to pay the rent. You make and price your goods up and the market takes 10 per cent towards the rent, plus three per cent goes to head office costs.

“Stallholders join for 5p. Everyone has to sell their own produce, you cannot just drop it off for someone else to sell for you.

“Customers can come and order cakes and puddings for Christmas. If we cannot find what you want, you can usually order it.”

If anyone wants to get involved they can simply drop in to the market for a chat when you see the sign showing the market is open.