Begonias weren't the only show in town this weekend as Ballarat also hosted book, embroidery, antique, stamp and coin fairs

BOOK SALE: Monique Allain, 12, and Suzanne Allain from Langwarrin with Italia the doll check out the reading material at the UnitingCare Book Fair. Pictures: Kate Healy.

BOOK SALE: Monique Allain, 12, and Suzanne Allain from Langwarrin with Italia the doll check out the reading material at the UnitingCare Book Fair. Pictures: Kate Healy.

There was a fair or exhibition to interest almost everyone in Ballarat over the weekend as flowers competed with books, antiques, embroidery, stamps and coins for attention.

The March long weekend is the traditional home for the UnitingCare Book Fair, the Ballarat Antique Fair, Ballarat Begonia Stamps and Coin Fair and every two years the Ballarat branch of the Embroidery Guild of Australia hold an exhibition of their handicrafts.

UnitingCare Ballarat book fair spokesman Rod Devenish said there were 80 to 90 people waiting at the door when the fair opened on Saturday morning.

“We stayed that busy for at least 90 minutes, then had probably 30 or 40 people there at any time for the rest of Saturday, and 25 to 30 people for the rest of the weekend,” Mr Devenish said.

EMBROIDERY: Kirsty Beckett, Mary Jansen and Dianne Rasmanis from the Ballarat branch of the Embroiderers Guild of Victoria inspect the hand-made items on display.

EMBROIDERY: Kirsty Beckett, Mary Jansen and Dianne Rasmanis from the Ballarat branch of the Embroiderers Guild of Victoria inspect the hand-made items on display.

“We had lots of people who have been very pleased to find things they’ve been missing from their collection. One chap was delighted to walk out with 100+ old National Geographic magazines to add to his collection, while others who collect an author or two found items missing from their bookshelves.”

Mr Devenish said the fair had raised at least $10,000 for UnitingCare, which would go toward programs including the BreezeWay meals for the homeless and Lifeline which do not attract any other local, state or federal government funding.

At St Patrick’s Church Hall in Dawson Street Sth, about 140 members of Ballarat’s Embroidery Guild of Australia branch displayed their creations to the public in their exhibition Stitches from a Golden City.

ANTIQUES: Antiquities on display at the 48th Ballarat Antique Fair were spread across several venues in Ballarat including the Mining Exchange.

ANTIQUES: Antiquities on display at the 48th Ballarat Antique Fair were spread across several venues in Ballarat including the Mining Exchange.

“We’ve had a steady stream of visitors through, some from Bendigo, Leongatha Geelong, Ararat, Horsham even from the UK and the US,” said spokeswoman Helen Hage.

“I think people that are interested in embroidery and heard it was on came to see, and many stayed in Ballarat for the whole weekend,” she said.

The exhibition is open for its final day on Tuesday from 10am to 3.30pm.

Ballarat Antique Fair organiser John Markworth said the fair was only about a quarter the size of previous years, having lost its large-scale home with the closure of the Ballarat Exhibition Centre in Wendouree last year.

Mr Markworth said every square centimetre of the fair’s new home at the Ballarat Mining Exchange and Trades Hall was taken advantage of.

“Sales numbers were good despite given the lack of air conditioning in the Mining Exchange and the small size, but the heat did cause some people to keel over and faint,” he said.

Mr Markworth hopes to hold next year’s event in Civic Hall if renovations have been completed.