Marge Woodfin, Pilot staff writer

It's official. A special Christmas is fast approaching, illustrated by what many planners, vendors and customers who attended the bazaars and other sales Saturday had to say.

All groups reported successful events.

The grand event was the 41st annual Brookings-Harbor Community Christmas Bazaar.

All were in agreement that this year's bazaar was the biggest and best one ever.

The Azalea School gym and Brookings-Harbor High School were packed with shoppers checking over the booths offering a variety of crafted Christmas items.

In addition to the bazaar that has been the harbinger of Christmas, other nonprofit groups tagged on activities to enjoy the advantage of the influx of shoppers in town.

Across the street, the fellowship hall at Brookings Presbyterian Church was also packed with shoppers and munchers, enjoying a variety of food and festive items for sale.

On the other corner, the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall was filled with displays of hobbies, including the monumental hat collection of Rick Bremer. Judges were busy tasting and testing chili entered in a cookoff, while VFW members were barbecuing just outside the door.

Down the road a bit, at the Masonic Lodge, Brookings-Harbor Garden Club members had a spread of green and growing things.

Comments from first-time vendors at the Christmas Bazaar included, "It went so well," from Marian Gamba, who was selling her soft knit head and neck bands. "I sold 40 pieces I was so pleased and people seemed to like them and I met so many people."

Two other vendors new to the bazaar had similar comments. Virginia Frizzle said, "I did enjoy it. I had great fun and met lots of people. Everybody was so organized, the food was delicious, everything was excellent."

Danielle Doyle's recap included, "I had a great time. There were so many people, a really great response from the community. I was busy all day. It was quite a success."

Others, who have been a part of the bazaar since its early days, agreed that the 2010 bazaar was a rollicking event.

Vangie Andreason, one of the original three bazaar planners, said, "Someone from out of town who called back about an item, said that it was a great bazaar and they will be back next year." She added that a couple selling baskets said they did better than any time in the last three years.

Long-time bazaar planner and promoter Peggy Goergen said, "The crowd was steady all day. We still had customers at the 5 o'clock closing time. We sold less food because so many others were selling food, but many said it was the best chicken casserole ever."

Goergen emphasized that the credit for this year's bazaar food goes to AMSDC, the Azalea Middle School D.C. group that works to raise money for the eighth graders' trip to the capitol in June.

Goergen explained that the other extension group that has partnered in organizing the bazaars over the years has disbanded and when they looked for help they found Donna Fleshman and AMSDC.

Fleshman, who noted that the students must each raise $1,500 to fund the trip to Washington, D.C., said the students and parents stepped in to prepare the chicken casserole, gelatin salad, hot rolls, and homemade pies always served at the bazaar.

The students, dressed as elves, served lunch to vendors, many of whom must single handedly cover their booth or table all day long.

Plans for next year's bazaar are already being discussed. Andreason said, "We've limited it to 100 vendors because that was all we thought we could accommodate, but I think we might be able to make room for six or seven more."

Garden Club Country Store chairwoman Barbara DeMoss said that the country store made more money this year - $3,200 - which is to be used for upkeep and additions to their Botanic Garden on Highway 101 and other gardens they tend throughout the community.

De Moss noted, "We did very well and were especially pleased with our sales of succulents, and bulbs and seeds."

She added, "We're busy planting and we look forward to our big plant sale in May."

Bonnie Bremer provided results of the VFW Post 966 chili cook-off. She reported that judges Post Commander Jim Thebaut, John Brazil, Bob Leach, and Marcie Muro awarded first place to Brookings-Harbor Redshirts Red White and Blue Chili; second place to Jan's Chetco Cafandeacute; Chili by Bill Lucas, third place to Brookings Emblem Club 265 Peace and Love Chili. The Post Commander's Choice award also went to the Redshirts.