Thousands flock to a popular market that unites a diverse group of residents with a passion for where they live and work.
Regular Hunters Bar street painter Victoria Butterell says the area can compete with any other European artists’ quarter. Paris for example.
“It’s colder here and rains more, but Sharrow Vale compares very well,” she said. “The area has lots of character and charm and colour, and lots of quaint and interesting people.”
Some 4,000 or more “quaint and interesting” people flocked to the Sharrow Vale market last Sunday, to sample the wares of around 80 stalls, the independent local shops and watch local musicians and dancers.
The market, which has been running for over four years, is now an established local attraction, said Shelley Cockayne, market publicity officer and member of the Sharrow Vale Community Association.
“The purpose of the market is to highlight our area as a really nice place to spend some time,” she said. “It brings the community together and says this is where we live, we like living here and we want everyone to look after it and enjoy it.”
The market majors on food and craft stalls, with support for local organisations such as asylum seekers support group Assist and church and community groups. Shelley praised local shopkeepers and the 30 volunteers who help on the day, and the core organising team of about a dozen people, all volunteers working in their free time.
The public and many stallholders would like to see a monthly or bi-monthly market, said Shelley, but the team reckon more than three a year would be a step too far without additional resources.
“At the moment we all do it for smiles. And a free cup of tea from the stallholders,”
Demand is high for street markets around the city, said Shelley. Later on Sunday she was meeting a group from Pitsmoor to advise about another possible local market.
“A lot of people want to go to a market near where they are, so I don’t see why there couldn’t be half a dozen really good markets around the city.”
Although many visitors to Sunday’s market lived within walking distance of Sharrowvale Road, the popularity of the market does draw people in from up to 40 miles away, said Shelley.
Stallholders pay £30 to take part, which goes towards the running of the market with some of the money also going to local good causes such as street decorations, the General Cemetery, solar panels on Hunters Bar School and the local ‘Live at Home’ scheme for elderly people.
One of the issues in the area is the interaction of local residents and students, and Sheffield Hallam University community reps were at the market to help entertain local children and meet local families on their craft stall.
“We’re trying to bring students and local residents together, because there are concerns about things like noise and rubbish, for example,” said student Lillian Corrigan. “The market is a communal event that brings older and younger and generations together.”
Sue Slinn, from the Jammie Codgers jam and marmalade stall, said the public enjoy a good street market, which also help local businesses to show their wares to new customers.
“Things go in circles,” she noted. “People are back into markets and fresh produce and home made stuff. Local markets had declined, but now they’re back again.”
The next market is in July, with bookings soon via the Sharrow Vale Community Association website - Shelley hopes to have another ten or more spaces for hire due to the ever-growing popularity of the market and the area.
“Sharrow Vale is like a village in itself,” said Shelley. “There’s everything you need, we don’t want to see it go to chain stores. There are other roads for that. We want to keep the integrity.”
Which should encourage the street painters too.