Cold and bright at Market Rasen BIG February Market

Having been a blustery wet night overnight, February’s BIG market dawned wet underfoot as the staff from West Lindsey district council set up the stalls on the Market Place in Market Rasen on February 1. There were old hands like the fruit and vegetable stall “Straight from the Farm” already set up and ready to go when it was still dark overhead. Jennie North explained that she’d been attending the market since she was a babe in arms, and her father had run the family stall, decades before.

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Jennie North and Brian Spittlehough expertly set up their “Straight from the Farm” stall
“My father and brother ran the stall for forty years before me,” she said. “We’re here every week, and from March 7 will be here on Fridays as well. The trade picks up then, when people start to travel to the coast.” She and Brian Spittlehough were expertly setting up the stall and dealing with the first customers as the day was dawning, bright with winter sunshine after all the rain we’ve had.

Other traders were only at their second BIG market. Mr Bratley was setting up his stall which includes plants and very unusual bird houses and feeders. He’d started out selling through the Hub in Market Rasen, selling 16 bird houses and feeders a month, and had progressed to a stall.

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“I have always wanted to do this, but I hadn’t had time until I retired. This is my second Mr BIG market, and I shall come every time now. I’m also going to Hemswell market.” he told us.

Parfitt’s Pets was one of the early stalls, with pet products and bird seed – “Keeing the pigeons alive in Market Rasen!” he joked, as he set out the stall.

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Duncan Eaton was setting up his Eaton Hampers stall, at only his second BIG market.  He explained that all the produce in their hampers is sourced from Lincolnshire.  “Of course, we don’t grow tea in Lincolnshire, so I source that from Lincolnshire importers, but everything that can come from Lincolnshire, does come from Lincolnshire.”

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It was a BIG week in all senses, this week, as the BIG Market had won the prize for Best Social Enterprise Market at the National Association of British Market Association’s (NABMA) awards just the previous Thursday.  At the Advocate Arms, the volunteers from Market Rasen Business Improvement Group, and the men from West Lindsey district council, who set up the stalls for the market traders, joined together for a celebration breakfast, before being corralled together for a photograph for the Market Rasen Mail, who covered the story in the paper this week.

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A BIG breakfast for the volunteers and staff from WLDC
MR Big director Sara Scott gave an impromptu speech and thanked everyone, staff from the WLDC, volunteers, traders, for all their efforts in making the BIG markets a success. She thanked Jackie Smith and Sadie Richardson, the MR Big apprentice, for picking up the award on behalf of the group, and looked forward to continuing success in the year to come.

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Left to right: Sadie Richardson, Tony Smith, Eamonn Flood, Jackie Smith, Sara Scott, Malcolm Wade, Phil Cole, Sarah Lamballe and Pete Bristow smile for the Market Rasen Mail camera.
Back out on the market, the stalls were withstanding a bitterly cold wind, but people were upbeat in the glow of the award.  Jenny’s Jams has only missed one BIG market since they started, and tries to source all her ingredients locally. I noticed that her lovely jam is included in Duncan’s hampers.

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Jenny’s Jams of Lincoln – only one BIG market missed since they started
Next door, Greenfield Baker’s Sonja Hundal has also only missed a month.  She was selling a wonderful range of artisan bread made with locally sourced organic flour from Maud Foster Windmill, cooked in a French Clay oven.  The date and honey loaf was very good indeed – and very good with some jam from Jenny’s Jams next door.

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