Patrons brave the cold for Rug Up Market

About 600 people attended the first day of Rug Up Ballarat's Winter Market, which runs from July 12-13.

About 600 people attended the first day of Rug Up Ballarat's Winter Market, which runs from July 12-13.

RUG UP Ballarat's marquee event, the Winter Market, got a warm reception from the community at the weekend, with about 1200 people braving the winter chill at the Mining Exchange.

The market, which had stalls, music and entertainment, was part of a push by Leadership Ballarat and Western Region (LBWR) to change perceptions of and attitudes toward the winter months in the city.

"We're trying to say yes, it's cold, but there's lots of things you can do in the winter that you can't do in the summer," LBWR chief executive Sofia Fiusco said.

"People with depression, it (symptoms) hits them harder during the winter months."

The festival collected donations for UnitingCare Ballarat's BreezeWay meals program, which provides more than 1700 meals per month to marginalised or homeless people in the region.

"It's about recognising people that people do do it tough," Ms Fiusco said, who suggested $5 per day could feed a person through the BreezeWay program.

Musician Earl Leonard put a rock and blues interpretation on some classic children songs for his audience.

"It's all about embracing the cold," said Mr Leonard, who added he played gigs in parks around Ballarat last June to try and get people "out and about".

About 40 volunteers helped during the festival, on of which was Claire Mahony who read books to four and five-year-olds as part of United Way Ballarat's Ballarat Reads Program.

The program brought the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to Ballarat, which tries to provide books to children of all ages.

"There's nothing better on a cold day than sitting back on the couch and enjoying a good book," Ms Mahony said.

Ms Mahony, who was part of a team of six readers who alternated during the day, said the program was trying to raise funds to provide one book to one pre-schooler per month.

Wonkey Donkey and Ten Fat Sausages were favourites among the children who attended the festival, Ms Mahony said.

Friends of Sovereign Hill (FOSH) member Andrea Howse, along with three fellow members dressed in 1850s Victorian attire, were making bonnets for FOSH at the Mining Exchange.

"Making bonnets is all part of the things they would have done (in the 1850s), along with other things," she said. 

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