Vangie Andreason remembers exactly what Brookings first Christmas Bazaar was like — and how it’s morphed over the past 46 years she and Marilyn Shipley have been coordinating it.
The popular event, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today (Nov. 16) at the Azalea Middle School auditorium and Brookings-Harbor High School multi-purpose room, this year will feature more than 100 booths of artisans, crafters and hobbyists from throughout the region.
In 1967, the duo brought together 26 booths at the Catholic school — the primary goal to get all the Christmas artisans under one roof, she said. In those days, the event was a two-day affair.
Andreason, who has lived in Brookings for 53 years, remembers times when people got stuck in the muddy parking lot, the year the fire department almost shut the event down for overcrowding, and the time she’s spent coordinating the artists and admiring their handiwork as she strolled the aisles.
“Now, seeing the list of the variety of artists?” Andreason said. “I have to go around three times before I buy anything. And even then you run into someone and ask, ‘Where did you find that?!’ and have to go around again.”
Artists include those who sew, carve, paint, photograph, weave, bead, throw clay — and myriad others.
The bazaar has been held at various locations throughout the years — the Catholic school, Kalmiopsis Elementary School, the Grange in Harbor — before they were able to obtain the larger space at the high school.
“That was a blessing,” she said, remembering the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds of the past.
“When the person in front of you moved, you moved,” she said with a laugh. “And someone turned us in. The fire department almost shut us down. That kind of scared us.”
Last year, they tried jurying the show, but this time opted to judge would-be entrants by the quality of the handcrafted work.
“If it’s not of quality, people aren’t going to buy it,” she said. “It’s up to them. But it’s the imagination of people that impresses me so much. I’m amazed at the things they can put together.”
She likes to buy, too — the first item she purchased decades ago was a flowered welcome wreath for the front door. Other purchases include set of wooden angels she displays each year, an ornate carving and a unique magazine rack.
Andreason said she’s not ready to turn over the operations any time soon, either.
“Marilyn took over the luncheon and I took over the reservations, and it’s been that way ever since,” she said. “I don’t think any of us thought it would get this big.”
The luncheon has been absent the last couple of years — it got too expensive, Andreason explained — but this year the two have made alternate arrangements for food serving both vendors and customers. People can enjoy pizzas — by the slice or the pie — if they’re ordered before 11 a.m.
Andreason will be on hand, selling her custom potholders and kitchen towels.
“No matter how much things there are in the store, this is always the beginning of Christmas for me,” she said. “And people just can’t wait.”