The hugely successful Lost Trades Fair, which attracts more than 20,000 people to view artisans practicing the trades of old, is moving to Ballarat next year.
The fair has been held in Kyneton since its inception six years ago, but organiser Lisa Rundell said it had outgrown its current site and a new location was needed.
Ms Rundell and her partner Glenn have been in talks with the City of Ballarat and tourism authorities to secure the move, though dates and exact location have yet to be finalised.
"It's outgrown the (Kyneton) region in terms of space and services like accommodation and restaurants," Ms Rundell said.
"We knew this year it may very well be the last time it would be in Kyneton but had not had any firm decision on where it would be, but it will move to Ballarat."
Ms Rundell had more artisans wanting to take part than space, and visitors had increasingly been reporting a poor experience because they were unable to get close enough to watch the artisans work.
WATCH THE LOST TRADES FAIR SHOWREEL BELOW
The Lost Trades Fair began in 2014 with around 30 artisans, and its last event at Kyneton over the March long weekend featured more than 100 artisans from across Australia. Each artisan practices an ancient trade, with trades from armourers and bell makers to wicker weavers and whip makers, and everything in between.
After 2018 visitor numbers peaked at more than 22,000, organisers capped entry this year allowing about 18,000 people in and turning people away at the gate.
"If you can't let people in that want to come, and they can't get in to buy products from the artisans, then it's a problem ... and with no room to grow we had to look outside the region."
"The event itself has achieved continued growth and success and it's shown that it needs to be in a bigger space, it needs a city.
"Ballarat just has more to offer in terms of infrastructure, public transport, accommodation ... and we wanted to keep it in regional Victoria, in central Victoria, so we see this as a hugely positive move."
A move to Ballarat could align the event closely with the Made of Ballarat marketing strategy, as many of the artisans involved in the fair are from the region.
Traditionally the Lost Trades Fair has been held over the March long weekend, but that would clash with the Ballarat Begonia Festival so organisers are looking for another weekend in February, March or April.
Visit Victoria could not confirm the future of the Lost Trades Fair, other than it would remain in regional Victoria.
"The Lost Trades Fair is a great regional event that will remain in regional Victoria - hosting negotiations regarding the future of the event remain commercial-in-confidence and are not yet finalised," they said in a statement.
City of Ballarat referred The Courier's queries about the festival back to the event organisers.
After the success of the first Lost Trade Fairs at Kyneton, the Rundells expanded to hold other Lost Trade Fairs at Toowoomba in Queensland and Hawkesbury in NSW. Artisans from across Australia travel to each event, and more than 150 artisans have taken part over the event's six-year history.
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The Rundells are passionate about supporting artisans who are keeping the trades of yesteryear alive and finding a new generation of supporters in the modern era.
"I don't ever want to put barriers up around our growth and the future growth of artisans," Ms Rundell said.
"We want to be giving artisans 10 to 20 metres, we want 50 people to be able to crowd around them as they present what they do, we don't want the space restriction we have had."
THE LOCAL ARTISANS
Artisans from Ballarat and the region have shared their excitement at news the Lost Trades Fair will be held in their home city.
Some Ballarat artisans have attended the fair for many years, while others are new to the lost trades movement.
Clunes creative Prue Simmons teaches and practices a Japanese form of weaving called SAORI, and has showcased the craft at the Lost Trades Fair for the past four years.
She said it had been exciting to be involved in the fair in Kyneton and she was now even more excited to be involved in Ballarat.
"I think it will be a huge boon for the region," Ms Simmons said.
"It does bring people from all over Australia to see crafts and support artisans."
Ms Simmons said she was busy keeping up at her studio with the demand for people wanting to learn the art of SAORI weaving, many who she met at the Lost Trades Fair earlier this year.
"So many people are coming to this event specifically because they want to see artisans creating their work and learn how to do it themselves. That is what sets it apart from any other festival," she said.
"It is a big event for my studio in terms of promoting SAORI weaving. I am still getting the flow on effect from this year's festival with people still coming to my studio to learn now."
Cordwainer and leather craftsman Jess Cameron-Wootten said the Lost Trades Fair had become integral to his bespoke shoe-making business Wootten.
"It puts us in touch with engaged and motivated customers that are interested in our craft," he said.
Wootten moved its manufacturing from Prahan to Ballarat last year, a move welcomed by the city's tourism body and council that is promoting Ballarat as a creative city.
"Based on the Creative City Strategy and the Made of Ballarat campaign, having the Lost Trades Fair in Ballarat is the perfect fit," Mr Cameron-Wootten said.
"What struck us when we moved here last year was the vision was strong from the council and the support they have provided us and other local artisans was fantastic, but what was lacking was a celebration of that vision and a location for people to latch onto it and for that vision to be personified. The Lost Trades Fair is a perfect embodiment of that.
"I think it will change the way the public view Ballarat as a creative city. Places like Kyneton and Castlemaine have benefited from that."
Janine Wilson, one half of hand-cranked sock business the Odd Sockery said the fair fit well with Ballarat's strong history.
"I think it will be a step up and will open new doors in a lot of area for the organisers and the district," she said.
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