Outrage as popular artisans fair is moved away from beachside to create new “centre” in Quarteira

Plans to create a new “town centre” in Quarteira and move events away from the beachside where activity has become “excessive” have been announced by Loulé council.

The decision has sparked a wave of outrage among local craftspeople, as this means the popular handicraft fair held each summer on the ‘Calçadão’ (the ‘calçada’ walkway along the beach) will no longer take place.

Speaking to Barlavento newspaper, “artesãos” (craftspeople) say they feel “expendable” and that handicraft is not being “valued” by the local authority.

But Heloísa Madeira, the councilwoman in charge of planning and urban management, has a completely different opinion.

She explained that activity along the beachfront walkway is excessive and the dynamic of the town needs to be reorganised due to the growing number of visitors, a decision that is consensual among Loulé council, the Quarteira parish council and the local maritime authorities.

“We need to create a new centre in Quarteira with interest points that can attract people,” Heloísa Madeira told Barlavento.

“I don’t want to be alarmist but considering the number of people that visit the ‘Calçadão’ during the summer, the location becomes vulnerable in terms of security. We must take precautions in due time.”

The whole area is due for a revamp, from cafés to shops.

Heloísa Madeira assures that the council will be making a substantial investment in the new handicraft fair, where there will be better conditions, such as access to water, electricity and bathrooms, new bars and eateries, and also the exemption of a municipal tax for those who take part.

She says that the number of craftspeople who have already signed up is much larger than in previous years, and thus the council is confident the new concept will be successful.

But artisans are unconvinced and doubt security is the “real reason” behind the decision.

“There have never been any (safety) issues,” they said.

The group, called the Commission of Artists and Craftspeople of Quarteira (CAAQ), also complains that the council did not consult them about the decision.

“They just told us what they were going to do, never showing openness to talk and find another solution,” they said of a meeting held at the town hall on November 27.

According to the “artesãos”, the ‘Calçadão’ won’t be the same without them.

“Without us, the area will lose its appeal and possibly even become more unsafe,” they said.

They also claim that the new location in Praça Filipe Jonas – two blocks away from the beachside – is “hostile and dangerous”.

“We are sure the move won’t work. They tried moving the fair to another location 25 years ago and it was a disaster.”

As they explain, the fair is the main source of income for around 30 families.

“We cannot just stand by with our arms crossed watching our dreams, talent and livelihood being buried.”

Photo: From left: Artisans Alda Venceslau, Márcio Alexandre, Deolinda Satiro and Liliana Lopes from CAAQ