Following the successful inaugural Ongaonga Victorian Market and Fair last year, a second fundraising fair is being planned as part of this year's Spring Fling in CHB.

Organising committee member Rita Scheltema is alerting local residents and craftspeople to "save the date" on Sunday September 20.

Organisers encourage dressing up and joining in at the Ongaonga Victorian Market.
Organisers encourage dressing up and joining in at the Ongaonga Victorian Market.

"More than 5000 people from Hawke's Bay, Manawatu and further afield came along to support our fair last year," said Rita. "The feedback was so positive, and most importantly, we were able to use the event to springboard our fundraising for the renovation of the Coles Bros Factory."

The Coles Factory was built in 1878 by Edward Purkis Coles and is listed as a category 1 building on the New Zealand Heritage List. The two-storey building was originally built as a carpentry and joinery factory, and is the oldest of its type in the country.

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The building was sold to the Ongaonga Historical Society by locals Anne and Greg Frater for just $1 several years ago.

Previous owner Anne Frater is thrilled to see fundraising efforts underway to restore the factory.

"This building really is an invaluable piece of New Zealand history, and we passed on the guardianship of the building knowing it was going into good hands with the passion and skills of the members of the Ongaonga Historical Society".

The restoration project is expected to cost around $200,000 so the committee members are working hard to raise one third of this amount at which point they can approach the Lottery Grants Board for assistance with the balance.

Historical Society president Dennis Schaw says he is pleased with the fundraising so far.

"Ongaonga is a small, but very special community. This time last year our kitty was empty and then with the 2019 fair, a couple of other fundraisers and private donations and we are already up to $15,000.

"We have invited local groups to be involved with the event and have buy-in from the local fire brigade, school, playcentre and church. We have also had wonderful support from the CHB District Council receiving assistance with traffic management and marketing."

Rita is now looking for additional stallholders and craftspeople to apply to sell quality NZ wares at the event. Potential stallholders can find information about the Victorian Fair at ongaongafair.com

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The Ongaonga Historical Society members encourage all attendees to dress in Victorian costume to add further character and fun to the event.

"Definitely save the date and come along rain or shine," Rita says.

"There is plenty of free parking, and loads to see and do from craft demonstrations, vintage cars and motorcycles, pony and cart rides, live music – the list just goes on and on.

"It is also a great opportunity to have a look around the Historical Village and the Coles Factory and see why we are so keen to have this treasure restored to its former glory".