This year’s Le Marche - Heathfield’s Anglo-French market - looks set to attract between 8-10,000 visitors to the town on Bank Holiday Monday, August 27.
Plans are laid for a bigger and better market than ever. And the whole event is entirely free; free to park and ride, free to enter and free to enjoy the entertainment. Station Road and Station Approach will close to traffic while about 90 stallholders open for business from 9.30am.
The stalls are roughly half English and half French with the welcome presence of visiting traders from Heathfield’s twin town, Forges-les-Eaux. On sale throughout the day will be fruit and vegetables, pates and meats, cheeses from both sides of the Channel, soaps, ready to eat pancakes and paella, kitchenware, accessories, handbags and baskets, French enamelware, jewellery, artisan bread and patisserie, dairy goods and preserves.
All of Heathfield’s organisations will also man stalls to run competitions and promote their services.
Most town shops will also be open and many lay on pavement displays and sales tables. Le Marche chairman Mike Woodhouse said: “Traders say takings are always well up on Le Marche day. It’s a wonderful way to bring people into the town from across Sussex and Kent. Lots of shopkeepers say they come to Heathfield for the first time, like what they see and come back later in the year.”
Le Marche offers a lively programme of free entertainment. Magician Marco will be around the town. There will be an all-day art exhibition in Union Church and the Cuckoo Arts Group displays its town mural at the Station Approach car park. Music is provided in the street, halls and on stage by the Heathfield Silver Band, The Electric Mouse Band, Horsham Accordian Band, classical guitarrist Paul O’Loughlin, Amani, the Tricky Beats and Sussex Stompers.
At the opposite end of the High Street, Heathfield firecrews stage their own open day with firefighting and rescue demonstrations and children’s rides in a vintage engine complete with loud bell.
Mike is pleased this year’s street collection is being run by Friends of East Sussex Hospices and urges everyone to give generously.