12 December 2022

A new era begins for Wagga's iconic River & Wren markets

| Chris Roe
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two women at markets

Emma Grant has taken over the River & Wren Markets from Jennie Burns. Photo: Chris Roe.

Jennie Burns says she woke up ‘”tired and happy” after overseeing her final River & Wren market at the Wagga Showgrounds on Sunday.

After founding the markets eight years ago, Jennie has handed the torch to Emma Grant and says it was nice to finish with a packed-out pre-Christmas event.

“It was such a big high and the really positive thing I found was that the crowd was pretty much back to the pre-COVID numbers,” she said.

“People were shoulder to shoulder getting through in the morning like it used to be, so I think there’s good times ahead for River & Wren!”

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When she began in 2014, Jennie’s vision was to reflect the style of the curated makers’ markets she had grown up visiting in Sydney.

Beginning with 55 stalls, River & Wren has grown to host more than 130 vendors and sees thousands of visitors wandering the halls each time.

“There is a little bit of sadness, but I think the overall feeling is just happy and I’m really excited that Emma is going to stick with the ethos of the market,” Jennie explains.

“The focus on handmade local products and supporting small home-based businesses.

“It’s a win for everybody and I know that the market is going to be just fine.”

River and Wren

River & Wren now attracts thousands of shoppers to each event. Photo: River & Wren.

Emma Grant is excited by the chance to balance the creative role with her career in finance.

“I’ve been wanting to do something for a little while that would give me some flexibility to spend time with my grandbabies, and my other reason is that connection and community,” she explains.

“I’ve been doing that already through a few different avenues like Women in Business and the We Are Riverina Women page and a few charities that I’m also involved with.

“When River & Wren came up for sale, I thought, that ticks those boxes!”

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Emma is looking forward to getting to know the community of stallholders and continuing Jennie’s legacy.

“Everyone was really welcoming and I made sure I got around to all the stallholders on the weekend and hopefully just putting their mind at ease that the market’s going to be continuing the way it is,” she says.

“I love the buzz around the market and what it gives back to the community and the way it brings in people from all over.

“Not being a creative myself, I’ve always been in awe of people that can produce something with their hands and their minds and it’s amazing what people can do.”

While Emma is not about to change the vibe of the popular event, she hopes to add her own stamp over the next year.

“I’ve got a few little ideas that aren’t really going to impact too much on the stallholders or the public,” she smiles.

“Small things like adding a family area with picnic rugs and beanbags, things that I’m hoping will just enhance what’s already there.”

River & Wren

River & Wren will return in March 2023. Photo: Supplied.

For her part, Jennie says she’s looking forward to attending future events as a shopper and adding to her expansive collection of homemade items.

“My house is filled with lots of handmade things, I love it!” she says with a laugh.

“At every market, I come home with something, and I actually spoiled myself yesterday, and I bought a painting.”

The abstract piece by market regular Maree McCrum is called lipstick and Jennie says it already has pride of place on the wall.

“It’s a happy painting and it’s something I can look at that will remind me of the market.”

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