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Longwarry and District brigade market boosts funds
What began 20 years ago as a Longwarry and District Fire Brigade car boot sale that raised $350, has expanded to a monthly market that has enabled the brigade to buy catering trailers and support vehicles and fund half their satellite station in Labertouche.
Instead of the brigade being on the fringe on a community market, they are at the centre as the organisers, doing everything from grunt work through to running all the food stalls. They also share the benefits, with Hallora and Pakenham brigades taking it in turns to fire up the barbecue and share the profits.
The secret to their success is no secret: it’s just hard word. Auxiliary President Judy Campbell puts the food order in to local suppliers on the Monday, picks the goods up on Thursday and Friday and is one of the troops spending three hours on Saturday preparing the food. That’s a heavy duty task with members wearing brigade goggles as they peel 20 kilograms of onions.
Glenise Smith and Jim Mowat have been involved for the long term and are on the scone-making front line, turning out about 240 scones.
“It’s just lemonade, cream and flour,” said Glenise, “and don’t knead them too much. They’re $2.50 with jam and cream so they’re great value. We always try to have some left over to put in the freezer so they’re ready to go for the catering trailer.
“We all just work in together and make an average of $5000 each month. Earlier this year we made $7000 and we couldn’t believe it – we had to count it twice.”
The money builds up with an average of 200 stalls selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, plants, kitcheware and bric-a-brac to new clothing, woodwork and other craft items. There are also two coffee vans on site pumping out caffeine to the Sunday morning shoppers.
“We charge $20 for a single site and $30 for a double,” said Captain Tim Hickford who oversees proceedings along with First Lieutenant Kylie George. “We try to keep it country style and keep prices reasonable.
“We don’t do any other fundraising, just this and the catering trailer. We’re self-sufficient. We don’t often apply for any other grants because we don’t need to steal the thunder from other brigades that need it.
“The money means we’re able to plan ahead. We went dollar for dollar with CFA on our satellite station. We face-lifted our fire station and upgraded the power and we’ve bought an FCV and a support vehicle along with our $35,000 catering trailer. We’ll upgrade the vehicles in two years and the five-year plan is to get an ultralight at Labertouche.”
The Longwarry and District Fire Brigade Market runs March to December on the 1st Sunday of the month from 8am to 1pm. The next market is on this Sunday, 5 June.