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by MATTHEW NASH
'Tis the season for the holiday bazaar.
In the months leading to Christmas, Sequim groups and nonprofits host almost 30 bazaars each year. Some have been going more than half a century, like St. Luke's Episcopal Church's 54th Christmas Bazaar, and some are just getting started, like Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe's Native and Non-Native Holiday Craft Fair.
Bazaars feature local homemade crafts, antiques, homemade baked goods and/or a wide-variety of unique items only found in Sequim.
Kaye Schramm, activities chairman of the Ladies of the Elks, said their bazaar has been going more than 20 years.
"People always want something different," Schramm said.
"I like to see birdhouses. The handiwork is very appealing."
Looking for handmade goods seems to be the trend among bazaar connoisseurs.
Linda Westeren, a first-time vendor, said she's gone to bazaars for years and loves miniature wood windmills.
"I have a great appreciation for people who make things with their hands," Westeren said.
Marilyn Zimmerman, a crochet vendor for six years, said people find it hard to resist handmade goods. She makes stocking caps and scarves and sells them at a few bazaars each year.
"My daughter takes them to Coupeville and they really go for my stuff there," Zimmerman said.
Sharon Ireton's biggest sellers are spud sacks with bedding inside; when a potato is microwaved in the sack it comes out as if it were oven-baked.
"People find out it works and they buy more," she said.
Sisters Karen Gates andGayle Kilmer said they love holiday bazaars and seek out new handmade craft ideas and to buy gifts for people, like a paperclip jingle bell necklace for their mother.
Zimmerman said her most treasured bazaar purchase is a handmade quilt she bought 10 years ago at the Sequim Lions' bazaar.
"I look forward to (bazaars) every year," Zimmerman said.
Schramm said the most unique item she's seen is a sheepskin rug from Alaska.
Diane Eason, a vendor and member of the Sequim Open Aire Market, sells dish towels, tea cozies and much more.
"Nobody has tea cozies," Eason joked.
Many times, vendors set up shop at different bazaars for new audiences and good conversation.
Mikie Brooks, who has made beaded jewelry since 1994, said she loves meeting new people at bazaars. One of her most memorable sales was to a woman who wasenamored by a $90 beaded bag for her friend.
"She couldn't hold in her excitement with how much she loved it," Brooks said.
One of Brooks' unwritten rules is always to give a good discount to other dealers because they have a lot of boxes to carry whereas hers come very easily.
Gwynn Wessel, co-organizer of the Yuletide Bazaar at Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church, said one of her favorite parts is meeting people every year and sharing in fellowship.
"People have been coming long enough that one woman just the other day came in and gave me something to sell in the bake sale," Wessel said.
Women at the church meet once a week from September until the sale and then work twice a month the rest of the year to craft bazaar items.
Many groups, such as Dungeness Valley Lutheran, give their proceeds to nonprofits for operations and/or to support local charities. Wessel said their sale brings in at least $7,000 a year.
Schramm said the Ladies of Elks' bazaar did very well. The members' goal is to give five $1,000 high school scholarships each year.
"Our scholarship fund will be quite heavy this year," Schramm said.
Pam Copeland, a member of Greywolf PTA, said they had a really good year.
"I don't know why, but when we start out with bad weather it doesn't really affect attendance," Copeland said.
Funds raised pay for learning materials, equipment and programs for the school.
Copeland also is a service unit manager for the Sequim Girl Scouts, which earned about $650 toward a group trip to Disneyland in the spring.
Carol Labbe, president of Sequim Guild of Seattle Children's Hospital, said their sale was a big success, too. About 800 people attended the bazaar at Sequim Prairie Grange and raised about $4,000 for the hospital.
Labbe ran the Greywolf Elementary Bazaar from 1992-2008 and said the bazaars are a great start for the holidays and are a chance to buy homemade items.
"You can go with your girlfriends, eat lunch and have a wonderful time out," Labbe said.
Local bazaars include: Agnew Helpful Neighbors, Christmas at the Pond House, Dungeness River Audubon Center, Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church, Faith Lutheran Preschool, Gardiner Community Center, Greywolf PTA, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, Jeffco Fair, Parkwood Community, P.E.O., St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Sequim Guild of Seattle Children's Hospital, Sequim Ladies of the Elks, Sequim Senior Activity Center, United Methodist Women and Women of St. Joseph's Catholic Church.
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.