Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter
October 26, 2023 // Diocese

Fall Season Marks Beginning of Annual Craft Bazaars

Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter

Fall is squarely upon us, and that means we are firmly entrenched in the season of sweaters, chili, and football. But there’s another autumn tradition that is eagerly anticipated by the faithful across the diocese: parish bazaars. Many churches around the area dedicate a Saturday or Sunday in the fall to bring local artists, bakers, craft-makers, and more together for a day of community building, gift buying, and great food.

St. Gaspar del Bufalo Catholic Church in Rome City is having their 39th annual Fancy Fair and Famous Cookie Bar bazaar on Saturday, October 28, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event raises money for charitable contributions for the community, the church, and parishioners in need. They support Helping Hands, a local pantry, Noble House Ministries, Sisters of St. Joseph, Life and Family Services, St. Martin Health Care in Garrett, and Sacred Heart Home in Avilla.

Photo provided by Karen Edwards
The annual Fancy Fair at St. Gaspar del Bufalo Church in Rome City is famous for its homemade cookies. Patrons pay for a large or small box and get to pick which cookies they want from a large selection of delicious treats. The Fancy Fair will be held on Saturday, October 28.

Luanne Shull, Cathy Putman, and Rita Curtis were trying to come up with ideas to raise money for the Rosary Sodality, according to Karen Edwards. Curtis belonged to a club that exchanged cookies every year. The ideas flooded in from there, which led to the beginning of the Fancy Fair – the name of which came from Francis Sextro, who was reading a book about a street fair called the Fancy Fair. The first year of the event had nine craft tables. Currently, there is a waiting list for a spot at the annual event.

Edwards said members of the church community donated food for the kitchen and cookie bar. Each parish family is asked to donate 12 dozen cookies. Soups and pies are also donated for the lunch that is served. Through this event, parishioners get a chance to participate and show off their cooking skills and their creative cookie decorating.

St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Yoder is having
their event on Saturday, November 4. The St. Aloysius Holiday Craft Show is happening at the school’s gymnasium from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It was an annual event for many years but took a brief hiatus. The event has since resumed, and this year marks the third fall event that brings the parish together for social time and holiday shopping.

Photo provided by Amanda Freiburger
St. Aloysius Church in Yoder is holding their annual Holiday Craft Show at the parish on Saturday, November 4. Pictured from left are volunteers Emma Freiburger, Parker Staton, and Avery Staton.

“The event is to allow local artisans to share their handmade items with the public and for people to get a jump start on their holiday shopping with a unique spread of items,” organizer Amanda Freiburger told Today’s Catholic. “With the craft show, we have a bake sale, coffee bar, and concessions. These are all areas where the school and parish volunteer to help make the event a success. Our wonderful parish community and school parents donate baked goods, and the school kids volunteer to sell them at the show. The bake sale is a great way that our parish community comes together to help raise money for our church and school, and St. Aloysius is known for its baked goods.”

Last year, organizers started a new tradition with the addition of Al’s Coffee Bar.

“Shoppers can get a coffee beverage on their way into the show or on their way out. This is something unique that you don’t usually see at craft shows, and one that we received a lot of great comments about. We serve coffee beverages and hot cocoa,” Freiburger said.

Photo provided by Mary Jordan
The St. Matthew craft bazaar, which will be held on Saturday, November 18, in South Bend, is set to have more than 80 vendors with a wide selection of goods.

St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend annually hosts its holiday craft bazaar on the third weekend in November, and this year it will happen on Saturday, November 18, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

When Mary Jordan took over as the event’s primary organizer in 2017, the annual marketplace had 20 vendors; now, there are more than 80 vendors selling their products.

“We love to build our community,” Jordan said. “St. Matthew puts emphasis on building a great community and doing things together. This is a great way to get people together and connect with many people throughout the Michiana area. This gives our parish an opportunity to support local vendors and get a little bit of shopping done at the same time.”

The annual event also provides an opportunity to bring the church and school communities together.

“One of my favorite things, other than seeing many people in our community, is the involvement of our Student Council,” Jordan said. “These great kids help vendors carry in their items and make sure our vendors are taken care of. We ask our vendors to donate an item from their table for a piggy raffle for our community to support our athletic department, as well. We have delicious concessions available for purchase, including Busia’s famous sloppy joe made by a long time St. Matthew parishioner. Student Council members also take lunch orders from vendors and deliver them to their table, so they don’t have the inconvenience of stepping away from their table. This teaches our kids the importance of serving our community. We always receive great compliments about our Student Council’s involvement in this. This makes us proud.”

St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in New Carlisle is starting what the parish hopes will become a new tradition by hosting a bazaar at the church hall on Saturday, November 4, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. According to organizer Janice Rajski, they have asked vendors to refrain from resale items and will share original works with visitors. They hope to create some unique traditions and special memories in the coming years. 

Whether it’s an annual tradition or something new starting at a school or parish, fall bazaars are a great way to build community and the local economy.

“Our hope with the show is that people have a great shopping experience and feel good that they are supporting local businesses in their own community,” said Freiburger, from St. Aloysius.

Edwards, from St. Gaspar, hopes that by attending the Fancy Fair, people will see the beautiful church and start their holiday season with an uplifting feeling, knowing they are supporting members of the community.

“I always hope people walk away from our event feeling welcomed and thinking that they really enjoyed visiting our event and look forward to coming back next year,” said Jordan, from St. Matthew. “Hopefully they have an added bonus of getting a little bit of their Christmas shopping done, as well.”

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