Making the decision for this to our last bazaar was not an easy one. Raising more than $150,000 for needy people during the past 14 years, we have been tremendously successful.
When people ask why we have decided not to continue after this year, I usually say it is because those of us who work in it are 15 years older than we were 15 years ago. In other words, many of us are in our golden years of swelling feet, aching backs and less than perfect eyes.
When I first began writing this column, it was filled with names of those who decorate trees, make biscuits, knit scarves, etc. Realizing it read like a church directory, I decided to leave names out.
But there are two who must be recognized — Ann Benzel and Joan Denny. For 15 years, they have been the backbone of the event.
Before you come into the church tomorrow morning you may recognize the smells of breakfast on the stove — coffee brewing and biscuits baking while ham and sausage fry. Fried apple pies, hot off the stove, will be waiting for you, too.
Through the years, the Heritage Bazaar has specialized in gift baskets. Since this will be the biggest and best bazaar in the 15 years of the event, there are more of them than ever for you to give to someone on your shopping list.
If you have been in the church’s social hall during the past two weeks you may have witnessed the biggest mess you have seen in a long time. Baskets, plastic wrap, raffia, ribbons, naked trees and other things were all over the place.
But all of that was the first part of a well-honed drill. With 14 years experience, we have it down pat.
There was a plan and the plan worked. First some filled the baskets with raffia while others walked among tables loaded with things to go into them. They were carefully selecting and coordinating items for each.
Next, a team wrapped each basket in plastic before passing it on to the next station for bows to be put on them. Then a price tag was attached.
During the years, new items have been added. The first time the bazaar had fully decorated Christmas trees for sale, at least one member — me — was concerned they might not sell.
After all the work one of the girls had put into making them beautiful, I did not want her to be disappointed.
As often happens, I had wasted my time worrying. Exactly seven minutes after the doors opened, the biggest tree had a “Sold” tag on it. Before long all of them were gone.
For this biggest and best bazaar, once again, there is an area filled with beautifully decorated trees of all sizes and themes ready to go home with you.
A Christmas bazaar would not be a bazaar without handmade crafts, cakes, pies and candy. From a 10-layer chocolate cake to hand-knitted scarves, there are things to fit everyone’s taste and wallet.
There will be canned green beans, grown, picked and canned by church members, and “Little Red Riding Hood” baskets filled with fresh vegetable-beef soup, cornbread and cookies.
Then do not forget, once again, church members have shelled and packaged 250 pounds of Georgia pecans.
Plans for something new and novel include having miniature men’s shirts made from two-dollar bills.
When this, our 15th bazaar, closes, we will have mixed emotions. There will be sadness, relief and a tremendous sense of accomplishment.
During the bazaar Christmas music will be playing. If you stick around to help with the cleanup, you may join with the workers singing.
We will not be singing Willie Nelson’s “Turn Out the Lights, the Party is Over.”
It will be the “Hallelujah Chorus.” After all, we have something to celebrate.
Knowing we have raised well more than $150,000 to help the needy warms our hearts.
Most likely while singing some of us will be thinking, “Since we will not be having the bazaar next year, we could …”
Definitely, we will continue helping those in need.
So, I hope to see you in the morning with your arms loaded and your stomach full.
Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.