Founders Book Fair


2013 marked 25 years since the beginning of the iconic Founders Book Fair. Starting from humble beginnings as a one-day book sale, a quarter-century later, the Founders Book Fair is a much loved nine-day event launching every Queen's Birthday Weekend.

Bookfair Image2.JPG 450755533 jpg 320x240 q851Founders Book Fair. Nelson City Council
Click image to enlarge

The annual fair is the major fundraiser for Nelson City Council community facility, Founders Heritage Park. In 2012 it raised a record $117,000 and welcomed over 10,000 visitors through the doors.

The passion of one local woman inspired the first Book Fair, which was held on 25 June 1988. Author and book lover, Amy (Agnes-Mary) Brooke, couldn't bear to see good quality books filling up the landfill and saw a gap in the market for a dedicated secondhand book sale. Like-minded friends and family soon joined her, and together they collected 60,000 books to sell in the Granary Hall.

In its second year, Don Kurth joined the volunteer force and helped to establish the Book Fair as an annual event that raised $3,000-$5,000 per year. By 1992, Don was managing the Book Fair with the firm goal of raising desperately needed funds for the operations of the Park. He introduced a varied pricing structure and started to categorise the donations, including keeping an eye out for rare and collectible books.

After Don's retirement in 2002, the Book Fair was helmed by Charles Cameron, who established new stock handling systems to make the work more efficient and less back-breaking. By this stage there was a consistent core of volunteers, including Anne Cameron, Pam Frahm (until 2009) David Hay, Brenda Kidson, and in later years, Allan Barris, Ian Dymond, Pat Standish-White, Murray Farrant and Lyn Hamilton.

Now a core team is complemented by over 60 additional volunteers who are brought in to help during the Book Fair itself. These committed enthusiasts take on a variety of roles, including selling, sorting, re-stocking shelves and security. In 2013, they needed all hands on deck to help with the record number of 3,000 banana boxes of books that were sorted into over 60 specialist categories, including the new categories of ‘Hunting & Fishing', ‘Vintage' and ‘Ephemera'.

For a second year, the Founders Book Fair had the backing of a commercial sponsor. In 2012 the book-loving law firm, Hunter Ralfe Lawyers, began its partnership with annual book bonanza. In 2013, Knapps Lawyers (incorporating Hunter Ralfe) continued its support.

From Live Nelson 352, 1 June 2013, p.1

Updated: April 2020

Do you have a story about this subject? Find out how to add one here.

Comment on this story

Further sources - Founders Book Fair


Web Resources