AUSTRALIA'S oldest artisan market turned 40 this year and there is no better time to head to Eumundi and check it out.
The famous Eumindi Markets will officially celebrate its 40th birthday on March 24 with a party featuring prizes, colourful street performers, live music and entertainment and an afterparty for our stall holders following the market on Saturday March 23.
Discover Eumundi Heritage and Visitor Centre is hosting an exhibition on the history of the market until the end of May in its Wan’din’in arts space, complete with a mocked up retro stall circa 1980’s.
When the markets were first launched in 1979 by ceramic artist Christa Barton and her friend Gail Perry-Somers in Eumundi's CWA hall, there were just three stalls, which were visited by eight visitors.
By the early 90s, the markets had built a reputation as a must see destination for visitors from both interstate and abroad.
By the turn of the century, the attraction had grown to a market featuring 350 stalls and in 2002, it opened for the first time on Wednesdays, in addition to its traditional Saturday opening hours.
In the present day, it features over 600 stalls and is visited by around 1.6 million people annually.
The vast majority of items sold at the markets are hand made by local artisans, with hand made coffee and a wide variety of foods also available.
Since launching, the markets have gone from strength to strength under the ethos of “make it, bake it, sew it, grow it”.
The focus on locally handmade products and services has helped the Eumundi Markets to forge a distinctive identity which has kept customers coming back for more year after year.
Marketing and operations manager Jan Ammitzboll has been involved with the markets for 13 years and said there was nothing like them anywhere else.
"There's something for everybody - fashion, jewellery, handmade pens, artwork, hand made coffee and delicious food, a bit of everything," she said.
"It's a nice day out. You can come out, sit under the trees, enjoy the atmosphere and enjoy some food and hopefully take home a treasure you won't find anywhere else."
She said the event had the highest visitation of any event on the Sunshine Coast.
Jan said its success had also provided a huge boost to the local community.
"A lot of businesses in town thrive on market days. Some only open on market days, she said.
The markets were established as a means for like minded creatives to collaborate in order to share their gifts.
Organisers place a strong emphasis on supporting other talented creatives by allowing a platform for musicians and other entertainers to perform.
They have also worked hard to make the markets sustainable by creating a worm farm in conjunction with the local school.
All compostable waste from the market is processed at the worm farm and resold as organic fluids and castings in order to raise funds.
The market also supports plastic bag free packaging materials.
The markets are open from 8am-1.30pm on Wednesdays and from 7am-2pm on Saturdays.
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IF YOU GO…
Eumundi offers a range of attractions for visitors of all tastes.
Adventurous types may want to explore the area's more rugged terrain by booking a place place with GONE Offroad 4WD tours.
The Real McCaul features a wide range of expertly crafted leather goods.
Avid readers may want to pay a visit to Berkelouw Book Barn, which features an incredible range of both new and used books.
Those who enjoy a drink can sample tasty, locally brewed beer and possibly some live music at the Eumundi Brewery.
Spirit House features great Thai inspired food in an ambient restaurant which invokes the spirit of south east Asia and the Imperial Hotel is a colonial style pub which offers live music, a beer garden and quality pub food.
Other highlights include the Tina Cooper Gallery and Artisans Gallery, which feature some great locally produced art, including woodwork, glass work and a wide variety of Indigenous art - discovereumundi.com