The Eumundi Markets as they were in the early 1980s.
The Eumundi Markets as they were in the early 1980s. Contributed

Eumundi bargain treasure a 'marketing phenomenon'

IT ALL started with an idea back in 1979.

Ceramic artist Christa Barton and her friend Gail Perry-Somers came up with the idea of holding a European style "artisans and farmers” market in Eumundi.

Inspired by a visit to the community run market in Kin Kin, some 30kms to the north, Christa and Gail decided on the CWA Hall as the best placed venue in town.

Their vision was to develop a retail base for local small crop growers and locally produced crafts, as well as offering a retail base for out-of-work young people - to develop their skills in handicrafts and food preparation.

On March 24, 1979, three marketeers gamely set up their stalls around the CWA Hall, with refreshments served inside. There was a total of eight visitors and a turnover of $30.

Perfectly positioned, the CWA Hall served as a refreshment room where the weary market visitor could indulge in home-baked goodies, exotic foods, fresh juices or a soothing cuppa.

Outside, market visitors could sit under Eumundi's magnificent Memorial Trees, dedicated to the 20 World War I diggers who made the supreme sacrifice.

After one year of operation, the Original Eumundi Market gained a reputation as a source of energy, variety, freshness and friendliness - properties that still characterise it today.

But it was the policy of its founders and the markets auspicing body, the Eumundi Historical Society (now the Eumundi Historical Association), led tirelessly by Valmay Templeton, that made it unique - all goods had to be locally made.

By 1985, the Original Eumundi Markets had 97 stalls, with an estimated attendance of 143,000 people for the year. By 1990, it had grown to 203 stalls, with some 260,000 visitors for the year. By the early 1990s, the Original Eumundi Markets had become a "must do” for interstate and overseas visitors holidaying in the region. It was also the perfect distance for day trippers from Brisbane after some quality retail therapy.

By the year 2000, the market had grown to 350 stalls, and in 2002, the Original Eumundi Markets expanded from just a Saturday market to include a Wednesday market as well.

Now in 2019, the Original Eumundi Markets is even bigger and has an annual visitation of about 1.2 million people with the ethos of "make it, bake it, sew it, grow it”.

As part of the 40th anniversary celebrations the Original Eumundi Markets will holding a big party for stallholders after the market on Saturday, March 23. As a thank you to the public who have supported the market over the 40 years, OEM has had 40 prizes up for grabs over 40 days in the lead up to March 23.

Discover Eumundi Heritage and Visitor Centre, which is run by EHA, will be holding an exhibition of the history on the market from Saturday, March 23 until the end of May in its Wan'din'in arts space complete with a mocked up retro stall circa 1980s.

All are welcome to the opening on March 23 at 2pm with the celebrations supported by the Sunshine Coast Council.