Louise from Bentley Heath Country Market reports:
For the third year running, a bunch of producers (who enthusiastically call themselves the ‘Marketing Committee’) at Bentley Heath Country Market decided to organise a craft activity for children each week over the school holidays. We were a bit late in our planning this year, holding the all important brainstorming conflab only a week before the schools broke up!
The summer kicked off with a seasoned favourite- one of Charlye’s treasure hunts. These are always well received by the children (although we have a sneaking suspicion that their parents and grandparents perhaps enjoy it more- there are often cases where the child is quite happy to sit down for a drink and a biscuit but is prevented from doing so by their more competitive older accompaniment, who ‘just has to find the last picture’.)
For the first week, Karen also organised some fabric printing: small linen jute bags that the children could decorate with fabric paint and potato stamps. Perfect for keeping their summer holidays bits and pieces in.
Jenny organised week two and was inspired by the theme of Art in the Park, Leamington 2018 (which the market was attending that weekend): trees! We were all a bit apprehensive of paint spattered jumpers and floors when Jenny first said she was going to do ‘tree painting with a stick’ but it worked really well. Our budding artistic younger guests were neat and tidy with their paintings, eager to use palette knives and the blunt end of a paint brush to make their works of art, rather than the conventional way.
Susan is one of the very talented artists at the market. She regularly does water colour and acrylic painting for cards and frames and takes custom orders. For week three, Susan very kindly offered to design her own ‘spot the difference’ sheets. It was a very busy morning, with the children not wanting to leave until they had coloured in the drawing as well as finding all the differences.
Week four was Louise’s upcycling craft. Armed with painted yogurt pots, toilet rolls, bottle tops, buttons and lots of bits and pieces she came up with the idea of either making bird feeders or wind chimes. All yogurt pots were duly prepped with a hole in the bottom for threading. The best made plans are always there for being turned upside down! It seemed that day that everyone wanted to make a boat from their yogurt pot! (Only problem being the leaky hole in the bottom!)
Kim stepped in at the last minute to help us with week five. Kim used to run a local Beaver group and she bubbles over with crafty inspiration and ideas. Inspired by some colouring sheets she found when out shopping the week before, Kim helped the younger guests make themselves a wall plaque from a paper plate, toilet roll and more.
Our summer finale was the ‘Sunflower competition’. Open to all- customers and producers alike- the idea was to cook, craft or grow something along the ‘sunflower’ theme. Entries were put on the front table and customers and producers were able to vote for their favourite during the morning. When all the votes were counted, M won the under 5’s (with a sunflower crafted from a paper plate), C won the under 16s (with sunflower iced homemade fairy cakes) and Penny won the adults (with a water colour sunflower painting).
Having little events and crafts for children certainly gave the market a ‘buzz’ over the summer. This year our activities were much better attended than those in 2017. It is really encouraging to see the children’s smiles when they proudly walk out of the market clutching what they made. The grandparents, especially, were very appreciative of our efforts- six weeks is a long time to look after an under 10 for when you are not used to it and so to have something already organised (no shopping/prep/cleaning up to do) for an hour a week is a bonus.
We’d certainly encourage other markets to follow suite, even if it is just some colouring pages and pencils for school holiday weeks. Our next children’s event is October half term week (2nd Nov), when we are planning a ‘Fireworks competition’ and Halloween craft 😊