SAXTONS RIVER, Vt. – When the doors open and the crowd pours in for this year’s Christmas Stocking Bazaar at Christ’s Church Saturday, Nov. 12, only a handful of attendees will remember the beginnings of this annual event 60 years ago.
The story is that the bazaar began with an ice cream soda social at the former Congregational Church that now houses the historical society museum and moved to its present location when the Baptist and Congregational churches decided it made sense to join forces to save money.
“I vaguely remember the bazaar at the current location of the historical society,” reminisced Saxtons River native Louise Frey Deiss in a recent e-mail. “My memories are pretty foggy, but it could be that Irene Kibbe made dried arrangements — and my mom probably baked a roaster full of beans to sell by the quart… Mrs. Musgrave crocheted beautiful snowflakes to hang on a Christmas tree, and Rhoena Longley would sew nice things, I think…aprons, and she used to make the cutest bunnies.” The church’s important fundraiser has endured over the years and, today, the Women’s Fellowship of the church counts on the community at large to keep the bazaar buzzing.
“We had about 17 men and women, members and non-members, in here one day baking apple pies to sell at the bazaar,” said Roberta Geist, one of the bazaar organizers. “The older folks shared memories of past bazaars as they peeled and sliced.”
The pies were made with apples donated by Saxtons River Orchard and were frozen for sale at the bazaar.
The event features the traditional bazaar elements: a Food Pantry where homemade baked goods, preserves, baked beans and fudge tempt buyers of every age; an Arts and Crafts table whose hats, mittens, aprons, potholders, Christmas ornaments and other handmade creations are proudly displayed by their creators; and a Santa’s Land for kids to have time out to decorate cookies and make a craft to take home.
The Attic Treasure Room is a maze of useful and downright head-scratcher items pulled from attics and offered at rock bottom prices with a “take-it-we-want-to-get-rid-of-it-attitude.”
With treasures in hand, bazaar-goers head downstairs to the tea room to be served a cinnamon bun and coffee or a sandwich and chips by one of the local youngsters conscripted to wait on tables while seasonal piano music plays in the background.
Somewhat unique to this bazaar and a sign of the busy times is a Gifts of Time and Talent table where services donated by members can be purchased: computer assistance, handyman hours, a prepared meal, help cleaning out a closet or attic or a cake for a special occasion.
A silent auction and a raffle of 150 gallons of oil donated by Cota & Cota round out the day.
“Everyone comes out for the bazaar,” said long-time member Jane Cook. “It’s such a tradition in the village and a wonderful part of living in Vermont that everyone wants to hang on to.”
Doors open at 9 a.m. and attendees are advised to be their early for the best buys.