A new community-focused market designed to bring neighbours together after the pandemic is launching next month.
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The first Canal Square Market will be held in June, with further dates in July and September with a Commonwealth theme to boost community involvement in the games, with a main venue just along the canal at the Utilita Arena.
Offering a wide variety of locally sourced food, gifts and crafts from some of Birmingham’s best traders, the first market will take place at Canal Square – close to Brindleyplace – on Friday June 10th.
As well as artisan produce, visitors will also be able to enjoy live music and family-friendly entertainment, plus discover what local businesses, such as popular brunch spot Juju’s Café, have to offer.
With the market idea being conceived during the pandemic, the Convention Quarter Residents Alliance (CQRA) has organised the markets to bring the local community together and offer a shared space to enjoy good times and make happy memories after a tough few years.
Visitors will be able to buy anything from freshly baked bread and wine to hand crafted jewellery and fresh flowers.
Organiser Fran Elder says: “During the regular CQRA residents’ meetings we had the idea of having a community artisan food and craft market hoping it would help to set Canal Square more at the heart of our growing community.
“We visited various markets in and around Birmingham and had discussions other market organisers as to the possible costs. Fortuitously, the chance to apply to the Commonwealth Games Community Fund gave us the opportunity to realise these plans.
“We submitted an application and were successful in obtaining £10,000 to develop the first 3 markets around the theme of the CWG and further legacy Christmas Market. Our long-term hope is to hold 6 markets a year so that there is a regular coming together of the community. This is more significant now, as the pandemic has caused significant isolation for people working from home and older and vulnerable residents.
“As part of our bid for funds we joined up with the Ladywood Project charity and the local Unitarian church to promote and develop local artisan businesses within our community. Many embryonic craft and food business have started and been developed during lockdown.
“When we finally knew we had funds we were ready to go and now have sold out all the markets this year and hope to be able expand onto Morville Street next year if we gain permission.
“One of the exciting and heart-warming experiences in our researching for this community project is the wonderful people we have met in terms of stall holders and other market organisers. The markets will offer locals a chance to chat, meet old friends and new and sample the wonderful delights of local fare and crafts.”
Fellow organiser Alex Elder says: “Apart from giving residents some active local involvement in the CWG celebrations, it’s hoped there will be a significant legacy premium of using the square for regular street markets over future years.
“The actual setting up of the market stalls is being handled professionally, but most of the associated work of planning, finding stall holders, publicising the events and marshalling on the day is being done by local volunteers from CQRA.
“We are grateful to our members as well as our local councillors, Kath Hartley and Sir Albert Bore, who have been great supporters of CQRA and our local projects over the years.”
Local traders that will be occupying the 20+ stalls include Pip’s Hot Sauce, Rourke’s Pies and Odi + Moo.
Pip Bradley of Pip’s Hot Sauce says: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to trade in what is going to feel like, thanks to the Commonwealth Games, the centre of Brum over the summer.”
Gary Rourke from Rourke’s Pies says: “Like many others coming, we are a lockdown business, having set up during the pandemic. It’s a great line up to be included in and wonderful to see so many local traders in one place for what’s set to be a great community event.”
Susie Davis from Odi + Moo says: “We’re excited to be attending the first market. Our ice cream cart is all kitted out and we look forward to a sunny afternoon on the square.”
Other traders include Joyem Home Fragrance, Cielo Pottery and Funny Brummies Pictures.
The Convention Quarter Residents Alliance is an association that was started by locals that aims to being the community together and improve the Convention Quarter for all who live and work there.
“The Convention Quarter is a residential hub with around 4000 people living within a five-minute walk from Canal Square, so we’re are hoping for a large turnout at each market. Our artisanal market is the first of many community events we plan to host and we welcome adults, children and furry friends to attend,” Fran concludes.
Owner of Ju Ju’s Café – that has called the square home for over 12 years – Julia Pallister says: “We’re thrilled to be a part of this great community initiative and we look forward to welcoming visitors to our beautiful square. After a rough couple of years it will be fabulous to see our local community come together both in June and coming months.”
Canal Square Market will be found at Canal Square, Browning Street. The markets will run from 3:30pm-7:30pm on June 10th, July 29th, September 9thand December 2nd.