After many false starts and a COVID-19 lockdown, the much-beloved Handmade Markets will return to EPIC in 2022.
The first in-person date has been set for the weekend of 29 April to 1 May, 2022. Also scheduled is another market in July, a special event in October and another market in December.
For Handmade Markets managing director Julie Nichols, the return of the event has been a long time coming. It’s been two years since the last in-person markets were held due to COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns.
“We’ve remained naively positive throughout,” she says. “The number of times we heard ourselves saying, ‘Surely, by XYZ-date things will be normal and right to go again.’
“Like the rest of the world, we just didn’t think things would go on this long. And yes, here I sit once again saying that by April things will be fine.”
The Handmade Markets, which have been a staple on Canberra’s events calendar for 10 years, were slated to make their big post-pandemic return twice.
The first one was supposed to be in June before Sydney’s delta COVID-19 outbreak put a stop to it, and then a smaller, local event in August was cancelled due to the ACT’s COVID-19 lockdown.
In March 2020, after the markets were cancelled just six days before they were set to go ahead, Julie and her team moved quickly to an online format, providing a lifeline to the small businesses that suffered immensely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She says it’s very important to all small business owners and producers that Canberrans head out to the markets and support them after the tough past 18 months.
Despite community hope for a more normal 2022, Julie notes the markets have prepared a COVID-19 safe plan “just in case” and will spend the next few months closely monitoring the pandemic situation interstate.
Other large events such as Summernats and the Canberra Show will also run first so Julie and her team will watch to see how any potential risks are managed and mitigated.
“We’ll learn what we can from the other events and if there’s something we think is important to put in place, we’ll do that too,” she says.
If necessary, the Handmade Markets can revert to a smaller, local event.
The April market will provide the perfect opportunity for people to buy Mother’s Day gifts for their loved ones.
Until April, Julie says her team will be doing their best to remain positive and are crossing their fingers and toes that everything goes ahead as planned.