It’s been a Brookings tradition since 1969, and Brookings Community Christmas Bazaar organizers expect hundreds to browse through a wealth of handmade decorations and gifts this year during the Nov. 16 event at Brookings-Harbor High School and at Azalea Middle School.

The bazaar began at the Brookings Catholic School half a century ago as a way to combine various holiday bazaars in one location, and also to promote the Oregon State University Extension Office and its various activities.

Over the years, the bazaar was held in a variety of locations, including Kalmiopsis Elementary School. But as the event grew in size and popularity, more space was required.

Through a cooperative partnership with the Brookings-Harbor School District, bazaar organizers now are holding the event at the high school and middle school.

Vangie Andreason has been the bazaar’s chair since the beginning. “It’s been 50 years,” she said. “It has been a long journey.”

Andreason acknowledges that chairing the event and helping others organize it from the start has been challenging. “We thought it was fun,” she said. “We were young then.

“It was fun to get the community together and to see the people all together. It was a fun thing to do for the community. When you are young, you don’t think of the hard work, you just do it.”

Peggy Goergen is another of the organizers of the bazaar. She said its longevity is based on what vendors make and bring to sell.

“The bazaar has always focused on handcrafted items, things made by the vendor, which can include baked goods, home items, décor, clothing, leather goods, pottery, fudge, even books authored by the vendor,” Goergen said.

“This variety, and the handcrafted requirement, draw folks from year to year to see what’s new and to find their favorite items.”

Goergen said other attractive items at the event include jewelry, photographs and paintings, tuna, children’s toys, Christmas décor, and knit and crocheted items. 

"One of our favorite attractions is the Christmas tree stacked with gift-wrapped “white elephants” priced at $1," she said. 

Goergen said children who visit the bazaar like to shop for themselves, as well as for their mother and father.

"Some people buy a bunch for a holiday gift exchange, and a single person comes every year to stock her own tree with gifts since she has no family near," Goerhen said. "What she doesn’t like, she donates back to us, already wrapped, for the next year."

Even Andreason said she finds special items to buy. “The unique angels, which I bought years ago,” Andreason said. “They are wooden angels and they are beautiful.”

Organizers expect fully 106 vendors to be at the Nov. 16 bazaar. Food vendors will also be on hand.

Over the years, the primary use of funds raised from vendor tables at the bazaar has been to provide educational opportunities for youth and women. That focus has included offering assistance for 4-H camp, fair facilities, college scholarships for 4-H youth and women’s opportunities. 

“At the bazaar, you see many of the people you might not see during the year,” said Andreason. “And it is the joy on peoples’ faces that I like to see. Everyone is friendly.”

Goergen said she enjoys the Brookings Community Christmas Bazaar especially because it is part of the excitement of the start of the holiday season. "Seeing old friends and smiling faces, finding excellent gifts and great bargains," she said. "Those of us on the committee enjoy being there all day and soaking in the event.

“The PEO chapter taking over the bazaar next year is going to find that it is addictive and much fun!" The local chapter of the Philanthropic Educational Organization will be assuming responsibility for the entire bazaar. PEO members will be in training during the Nov. 16 activities.

PEO, an international nonprofit organization, provides educational opportunities for women through scholarships and related support. Since the local chapter formed, its members have provided support of more than $60,000 to local women.

The 2019 Brookings Community Christmas Bazaar will be held from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 16, at the Brookings-Harbor High School cafeteria, 625 Pioneer Rd., and in the Azalea Middle School gym, 505 Pacific Ave., both in Brookings.

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