By JEAN HAVENS
The Christmas season official began Saturday for members of St. Basil’s Episcopal Church, who held their annual bazaar and luncheon.
The 25-year-old annual event featured handmade crafts created by church members, along with a midday meal.
Church member and craft -maker Sara Chapman said meetings and workshops to organize and prepare for the bazaar start about two to three months in advance.
“All the crafts are handmade by our church members,” said Chapman. “We also have an art teacher who does the paintings that are on sale. Our bazaar is noted for jewelry, stuffed pumpkins and a lot of useful items like the microwave potato bags.”
Chapman makes the stuffed pumpkins, along with aprons that are popular items for the holiday shoppers.
Majorie Malone, president of Episcopal Church Women, said the stuffed pumpkins are popular with shoppers, and are usually gone before lunch.
Mady Hall donates her handbag collection she calls Holiday Clutches. This is her third year to be active in the event. She makes her purses from placemats to create unique handbags to use throughout the holiday.
Many of the shoppers were looking for holiday decorations and Christmas gifts. They were from the community, as well as from neighboring towns.
Malka Hayes, of Wagoner, stopped to shop for the first time this year. She was looking for Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers.
Hayes said she liked the signs for sale and thought the hot curling iron contraption was unique.
Some visitors looking for Christmas buys were also members of the church.
Jo Hughes was searching for Christmas gifts for her family. She’s been shopping the annual bazaar for 10 years.
“It’s the best bazaar, because they have so much new stuff every year,” Hughes said. “And it’s all hand-crafted.”
Shopping at the church bazaar is a tradition for some.
Amy Carroll said her parents came to shop at the bazaar when she was young. It became a family tradition. Now she’s doing her Christmas shopping at the church event, like her parents did.
Carroll said her favorite item for sale was the fabric tree.
“I remember seeing them here for years, and I’ve always loved them,” she said.
Besides homemade crafts and decorations, baked goods and frozen casseroles are sold.
Phyllis Mutzig said people come for the bishop’s bread, fudge, pies, cookies and cakes.
“We have return customers, because they know how delicious our items are,” said Mutzig.
Bishop’s bread and reindeer food are favorites at the bazaar.
Bishop’s bread is made with of yeast, sugar and cinnamon and is unique in its sweet taste.
“It has a one-of-a-kind taste and freezes nicely,” said Mutzig.
According to Mutzig, reindeer food is a type of Chex mix made with all kinds of goodies like M&Ms, white chocolate and Chex cereal.
“Frozen casseroles are a big item, too,” said Mutzig. “This time of year, people are busy and don’t have time to cook, so they rely on our casseroles.”
Malone said the annual luncheon featured chicken tetrazzini that she has developed into a church favorite as well as a community favorite.
The recipe began when she cooked turkey spaghetti made from turkey leftovers.
“I read a tetrazzini recipe that used leftovers, and through experimenting with flavors, it has evolved into the church bazaar specialty,” Malone said.
Malone said profits made from the event are used in several local charities.
One charity is “Feed My Sheep,” which is sponsored by several community churches. “Feed My Sheep” provides a meal to those in need every Thursday night, from 5-6, and is held at the First United Methodist Church.
According to Malone, a percentage of the bazaar’s profits are distributed to St. Basil’s ECW, which uses the money for such things as Christmas stockings and Easter baskets for Hope House.
Although the handmade crafts and luncheon provide gifts and pleasure to those attending, the result is that the bazaar and luncheon serve the community in many ways throughout the year.