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Mild weather brings shoppers to weekend of holiday bazaars


December 9, 2015

Steve Edwards

Sierra Swank leaves Wallner Hall with a load of lunches to be delivered during the Chinook United Methodist's Salisbury steak dinner.

An unusually mild winter weekend brought sizeable numbers of shoppers to the first weekend of local holiday bazaars around Blaine County. Some bazaar organizers, in the past, believed good weather tended to cause shoppers to head out of town for their shopping but that wasn't the case this year. All three first-round bazaars enjoyed a good turnout as shoppers got into the holiday spirit.

Historically, charitable bazaars in the United States date back to the early 1800's, as women's groups used the events to raise money to support religious organizations as well as political movements-like suffrage for women. Today's holiday bazaars are steeped in a tradition of fundraising that dates back two centuries in our country. The bazaars, over the years, influenced American culture in many ways, popularizing new foods, clothing styles and home decorations. Bazaars are an old tradition that seem to continue to influence how we live in many ways, and they are always a nice break during the early winter.

Aaniiih Nakoda College bazaar, Friday

In its fifth year, the annual event is staged at the Cultural Center on the campus of Aaniiih Nakoda College at Fort Belknap. The school staff and parents of the White Clay Immersion School host the event and serve a lunch. Proceeds go toward buying presents for the school's students.

The room where the vendors set up was a large, open space with a gigantic Christmas tree set along the windows to the room-very festive. Vendors had many native handcrafted items as well as beauty products, clothing, home and personal accessories and other gift items for sale. Michelle Crazy, who was selling wearable items made of fleece, said, "The turnout was very good and the lunch items all went quickly."

The White Clay Immersion School, operated privately, seeks to preserve native language and culture among its students. Students learn their native language and culture while also taking a curriculum of standard classes in math, science and reading. The school is in its twelfth year of operation.

St. Thomas Catholic Church, Saturday

The St. Thomas Catholic Church's annual holiday bazaar began more than 30 years ago in church. According to Karolee Cronk, one of the long time organizers, the bazaar was moved to New Horizons several years ago when the bazaar outgrew the church's available space. The location seems to work well at New Horizons with plenty of space for vendors and a place for shoppers to take a lunch break and enjoy chili or stew, buns and lots of homemade pie choices-20 different ones were available.

In addition to a dozen vendors, with a lot of varied items for sale, the entrance area had an array of tables laden with homemade holiday treats-everything from Scandinavian rosettes to homemade candies of every variety. Cookies were being sold by the baker's dozen and candies by the pound. By mid-lunch time the choices were beginning to dwindle on the tables of goodies.

A basket of Montana-related items was being raffled. It was being offered by the Altar Society of the church. As to the logistics of the event, Cronk said, "We start in September with planning. We've had the same chairpersons for each activity for several years, everyone knows what needs to be done and they do it." The experienced organizers did well as the event was going smoothly with lots of shopping choices, an excellent lunch and plenty of opportunities for visiting with friends.

Chinook United Methodist, Sunday

Chinook's United Methodist congregation hosted their holiday Salisbury steak dinner last Sunday during the noon hour. The event, which started in the late 1940's grew out of the original "wild game dinner" prepared by the men of the church. Sometime around the late 1950's, after Wallner Hall was completed, the bazaar moved to its current location.

The meal is always steak and all the trimmings, with lots of pie and other choices for dessert. Congregants prepare homemade cookies, candies and other baked holiday fare for sale as well. The dinner is timed to "catch the church crowd" and the dinners are ecumenical, representing members from all the churches in town as well as others who come to enjoy a great meal and fellowship. Pastor Jack Mattingly said the annual event typically draws about 125 eat-in diners and carry outs. The day was a bit dreary, weather-wise, but the atmosphere in Wallner Hall was warm and inviting.

More upcoming holiday events

Steve Edwards

Chuck Wasser and granddaughter, Paycee Leo, enjoy a stew and pie luncheon at the annual bazaar hosted by St. Thomas Catholic Church.

• Wednesday, December 9, Harlem. Harlem Civic Association's annual Country Christmas, 4-7 p.m. in the downtown area. The town Christmas Tree will be lit at 6 p.m., with Santa photos, vendors and food.

• Saturday, December 12, Chinook. Sweet Memorial Nursing Home bazaar, luncheon and garage sale, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the nursing home west of town on Highway 2. Lots of vendors and gift items will be available.

• Sunday, December 13, Harlem. Post 4744 will hold its Christmas party with social hour at 5 p.m. and a potluck dinner at 6 p.m. Cards and games will follow. The public is invited.

• Sunday, December 13, Chinook. Edwards Funeral Home Remembrance Service, 4 p.m.

• Sunday, December 13, Chinook. Annual Community Christmas program at St. Gabriel's Catholic Church at 7 p.m., sponsored by the Chinook Ministerial Association and open to all. Coffee and cookies to follow in the fellowship hall after the program.


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