Market celebrates 30th anniversary

When the Lions Club of Hout Bay informally hosted a few crafters to display their work more than 30 years ago, they could never have imagined that it would be the start of a successful ongoing fundraising campaign in the form of the crafters’ market that has now become synonymous with Sundays in Hout Bay.

Since then, the market – which started with 15 crafters – has grown substantially and now has more than 80 crafters displaying their work every week.

Longstanding Lion, Andrea Hespel said the market was the brainchild of potter Karen Muir and her late husband and devoted Lion, Pierre Jean Hespel.

Ms Muir suggested they get a few crafters together to display their work and charge a minimal fee. The first market day was a huge success and it had been held annually thereafter.

But as it grew from strength to strength, market days were increased to four times a year and eventually to once a week. But it has not been without its ups and downs.

Market administrator Miranda Lewis said the past five years have been tough and during 2012 to 2013 it was touch and go whether the market would continue to operate on the common due to problems with renewing the lease with the City of Cape Town. But thanks to the personal intervention of Mayor Patricia de Lille the market got a new home on the common with paved pathways and a parking lot, making it more accessible to the public.

To ensure variety at the market, Ms Hespel explains that most crafters are regulars and trade at the same location every week while others are casuals who trade from allocated spots once or twice a month.

Crafter Miriam Kwenda and her father Godfrey Kwenda have been trading at the market for the past nine years. The father and daughter team make guinea fowls, ducks, porcupines, ostriches and chickens from pine cones.

Ms Kwenda says they have been very happy at the market over the past years. “Winter months are quiet but the summer months are always busy,” she said.

Joan Fourie has been trading at the market for the past 15 years and makes her way to Hout Bay from Strand every Sunday.

She sells mainly men’s clothing that she makes herself and says she has a few regulars, tourist “swallows” who buy in bulk from her every year.

“Every year is the same, winter months are quiet but the summer months are very busy,” she said.

Ms Hespel says it has been a big year for the Lions Club of Hout Bay. Not only is the market celebrating its 30th anniversary this month but the club celebrated its 50th anniversary in April.

The proceeds raised through the market enables the Lions to be actively involved in health and welfare projects in Hout Bay, such as running the Hout Bay Health Forum and assisting the clinics with vaccination drives; providing medical equipment to bedridden patients; collecting and distributing clothing and household items to those in need. Other projects include the food project where hundreds of meals are provided to the needy on a monthly basis; early childhood development where the club assists children to learn how to read and support of créches to ensure optimum mental and physical development as well as assisting youngsters to gain access to tertiary education, bursaries and student loans and the provision of ongoing mentorship as well as financial support to the youngsters.

Ms Hespel said the market also funds outings, Christmas parties and gifts for underprivileged children, seniors, those who are bedridden and those living with disabilities.

She has witnessed many changes in the club throughout the years and says recruiting new younger members is currently one of the club’s biggest challenge.

“Our motto remains unchanged, to serve the needs of the underprivileged,” she said.