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Apr. 1, 2020 | Wednesday
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Mammoth Grace United sale started as a farmers' market
The silent auction at Grace United includes these three original framed posters: an early 1960s wrestling event in Niagara Falls, a Rolling Stones concert in Toronto in 2002, and a 1973 World Rowing Championships poster donated by a member of Canada’s team at that event. (Supplied)

John Sayers

Special to The Lake Report

This isn’t your ancestors’ sale. The 2019 Festival Market at Grace United Church, on Saturday, August 31st, has morphed from a farmers’ market in 1966 to a much larger event now.

Mary Snider, Grace United Church’s historian, recollects that in 1966 her late father, Will Haines, realized that he had a lot of vegetables in his large garden and they could be used to raise money for the church.

He was joined by the Greaves family, who had access to lots of fruit, and Linda Werner, who had both fruit and vegetables. The result was the first-ever Grace United Church Market.

Many years passed and over those years Snider recalls that the produce was enhanced by other offerings, including the first-ever garage sale in 1986. So here we are, more than 50 years from its inception, and the market continues to evolve.

A decade or so ago, the name was changed to the Festival Market to reflect the fact that it’s no longer just a farmers’ market. Following the respective strawberry, cherry, and peach festivals in town, it could have been called the Harvest Festival – but that smacked too much of the purely agrarian roots of the event.

Festival Market organizer Leslie Woodward reports that there’s delicious baking, breakfast, dazzling jewelry, and other attractions, but says let’s talk about two facets specifically. For book lovers, there are more than 4,000 books as well as some 500 DVDs and CDs. You’ll also find sheet music and other ephemera.

And for those in search of something unique and special, this year’s silent auction, headed by Gail Martin and assisted by Jay Moyer, includes some framed and desirable original posters that can accurately be called “eye candy.”

You can follow the bidding upward, or you can select the Buy-It-Now’ option that eliminates any uncertainty. Martin notes we introduced that option a year ago and it was really well-received.

For your Man-Cave, there’s a Niagara Falls Wrestling poster of some 60 years ago that may well be the only survivor of fragile posters that were tacked up to promote the event. Wrestling fans of long ago cheered for their heroes like Johnny Valentine and booed villains such as Hans Schmidt. Life was so much simpler in those days.

If you’re a Rolling Stones fan, a poster distributed to promote their Toronto concert in 2002 will surely be irresistible. Finally, among many other types of silent auction items, a poster with stunning graphics promoting the World Rowing Championships in 1973 has been donated by a member of the team that represented Canada in that competition.

If you want to use the Buy It Now option, you can dash in at 8 a.m. and capture your prize. If you want to buy a book by your favourite author, you can come then or hope that it will still be there when you have rubbed the Saturday morning sleep out of your eyes a little later.

But if you want first pick of the home baking maybe you should wake from the sandman’s effects a little earlier. Parking will be better and you can find us on Victoria Street just around the corner from the Shaw Café.

Don’t worry – there’s breakfast and tea or coffee available at Grace United church to reward you for your efforts. See you on Saturday.