Flurries of shoppers gathered at Brookings-Harbor High School Saturday to see what was available at the 33rd annual Community Christmas Bazaar.
The bazaar serves to kick off holiday festivities bringing together holiday shoppers and specialty craft vendors.
A luncheon, featuring a chicken casserole dish, specialty salads, rolls, pumpkin pie was provided by the Sea Gals, who combined their proceeds with those raised by event organizers from the rental of vendor display spaces, to help fund camp scholarships for 4-H members.
Customers and participants both agreed, the Brookings Nite Extension Group, sponsors of the bazaar, did a great job putting it all together again this year.
The group is associated with Oregon State University and its Family Community Education division, and was originally founded 33 years ago by Vangie Andreason, Marilyn Shipley and Peggy George.
"They decided to try and put all of the bazaars that were going on at that time, under one roof," said Fran Shimmin, member of the group since 1978.
Shimmin said a lot of time and dedication goes into planning and executing the yearly holiday bazaars by the 18 women in the organization.
"Its a group effort," she explained.
"We have a little joke in our group," Shimmin said. "Whenever anybody asks why we do all of this work for nothing we say, We do it for the power and the glory.' "
But, Shimmin said with a laugh, "Its so much work, and there's not a lot of glory."
Entertaining the lunchtime crowd with Christmas music was the Oregon Coastal Accordion Group.
"I didn't realize there would be so many people. There's a lot of people here," said accordion player Ken Hampsten.
Nancy Pettet, president of Oregon Coast Accordion Group, and member of the Brookings Nite Extension Group, explained, "We enjoy playing for the public, especially for those who are shut in."
According to Pettet, the accordion group plays at about 14 venues per year, including several nursing home performances.
"I come every year," said event patron Kathaleen Dowden. "Its fun and you get to see a lot of people you haven't seen all year.
"All of the items are handcrafted. Everyone has different ideas, and it all looks wonderful."
Many of the crafters took turns helping customers at neighboring booths to allow fellow vendors a chance to go shopping and socializing.
"Even if you don't sell very much, its just fun being here," said Janice Park, who has been participating in the annual get-together for more than a decade.
"I think there are more people here this year," she said, " Business is really good."
Park and her sister, Judy Pacheco, and sister-in-law, Janet Park have been setting up shop at the bazaar, selling items such as bowling pins decorated as clowns, and dolls with clothespins for their bodies, arms and legs, for the past 15 years.
"We don't do it for a profit, we just want to make enough to pay for our materials," Janice Park said.
Pacheco added that, "Its good therapy."
Although the sisters did well on Saturday, not all vendors were as fortunate.
Jeannie Housden, a first grade teacher at Kalmiopsis, believes economic factors affected buying behaviors. She noticed, as did a few others, that lower priced items, such as those marked under $20, sold much better than more expensive merchandise.
"I don't think people have as much to spend this year," she said.
Vendor Lisa Griffin agreed customers seemed to buy more freely in prior years.
"Business is slow," she noticed for those vendors who were showcasing higher ticketed items.
Phyllis Bay reported crafts on her table selling for $2.50 were moving steadily, but her satin and velvet luxury pillows priced between $30 and $40 were not.
She and her daughter in law, Connie Bay, donated partial proceeds from their booth to help fund an upcoming educational trip to Washington D.C., for a group of middle and high school students.
Pictorial mosaics made by Intarsia Woodcraft artist Louis Prudhomme, selling around the $80 price range did well, but he admits he had to drop his prices significantly from last year.
Because material costs and labor hours can be quite extensive, he said he doesn't make much profit, but instead, does it for fun, and likes the pleasure his work gives to other people.
"Its a wonderful hobby," he said. "It is nice to see people enjoy my work."
Another vendor whom has participated in the bazaar for many years is Christmas decorations crafter Debra Wells.
"I've been doing this bazaar for close to 20 years," she said.
Even though she was living in Eugene from 1988 to 1992, after being born and raised in Brookings, she made it a point to return for the bazaar year after year. Not just for the opportunity to sell her originally designed wreathes, ornaments, tree toppers and other accessories, but also to touch base with the community she called home.
"Its nice to see the things people have worked so hard on," she said.
Like many of the vendors, Wells received several orders for customized decorative pieces that she will be completing in the coming weeks.
Ralph Smith has participated in the bazaar for many years, making hand-sculptured bowls and platters out of aged pieces of myrtlewood that are traditionally overlooked by factories.
"I use only wood that's been dead 50-100 years," he told one customer. "Its the stuff other people throw away."
He says each piece speaks to him differently. When crafting a particular item, "I follow whatever shape Mother Nature presents me with."
Taking the opportunity to raise funds to go to a special church camp in New York in August were Shannon Forbes, Kimberly Hodges, Shanna Presler and Julia Arnold. The girls sold handcrafted items such as beaded macrame hemp jewelry, blankets, afghans and cross-stitch calendars.
"We are doing better than we thought we would," said Forbes, a senior at Brookings-Harbor High School.
According to Hodges, the girls will need to raise between $1,000 and 1,500 each in order to attend the event.
"Its going great," she said of the reception the foursome's fundraiser received at the bazaar.
They hope to secure sponsorships in addition to earning dollars through other activities such as car washes and sales. Donations are being accepted at Hodges Chiropractic Clinic.
St. Timothy's Episcopal Church also raised funds for worthy causes by selling baked goods. Some items were sold out within the first two hours.
Proceeds from the event are earmarked for donations to charities such as Hospice, the Food Bank, and Oasis Women's Shelter, said Lee Laufer.
Although pleased with the opportunity the bazaar provided, the group of women from the church were also thankful for the chance to visit with friends.
"You see people that you may only get to see once a year," said Doris Westoby.
"Its great for the community. We don't all go to the same churches, or do the same activities, but once a year we get to see everybody," she said.