With the leaves changing colors and falling from the trees, cooler winds whipping around and Thanksgiving a mere three weeks or so away, bazaar-goers like Dorothy Boback of Denver spend their Saturdays looking for bargains.
â€œItâ€™s a beautiful day to get out and do some Christmas shopping,â€ she said.
Hundreds of people flocked to two bazaars in Denver on Saturday that were held less than a quarter-mile from each other.
The first was at Lakeshore Presbyterian Church in Denver, the other at Unity Presbyterian.
â€œOur bazaar works in harmony with the one held at Unity Presbyterian Church,â€ said Lakeshore church member Ann Wissman.
The Lakeshore bazaar was started four years ago by the group Women In the Church (WIC).
â€œOne year, we had a silent auction, then a bazaar,â€ said Wissman. â€œSince Unity does their craft bazaar at the same time, it was a good idea to have our bazaar at the same time.â€
Vendors at the Lakeshore bazaar rent tables to display their wares, according to Wissman.
Last year, the church raised $2,000 during their bazaar.
Nineteen vendors filled the churchâ€™s multi-purpose building, with items ranging from Pampered Chef and Mary Kay Cosmetics to homemade quilts and purses.
One of the vendors there was Anita McIntosh, owner of Watershed Studio in Denver.
â€œI do several shows per year,â€ she said. â€œMeeting people at bazaars like this make them special.â€
Her booth featured water color pictures of Lake Norman that McIntosh had done herself.
After looking at McIntoshâ€™s water colors, Boback was planning to shop at Lakeshore then head over to Unity Presbyterian Churchâ€™s craft bazaar.
â€œIâ€™ll be out shopping until lunchtime,â€ she said.
For the past six years, the women of Unity Presbyterian Church have held a fall craft bazaar as a fundraiser for their church.
According to Jeanne Haas, who first started the bazaar in 1999, the church started holding their event for a good reason.
â€œThere were so many needs and the church had no budget,â€ she said.
Haas added that there wasnâ€™t too much interaction between the ladies of the church.
â€œWe also looked at the level of fellowship we had here and realized that most of us really didnâ€™t know each other,â€ she said.
The solution was to prepare crafts for the bazaar.
Ladies of Unity Presbyterian start meeting in March and making different crafts â€“ from shawls to knick-knacks â€“ for the November bazaar.
The lure of all-handmade products was too good for Denver-area resident Dorothy Carter to pass up.
â€œIâ€™ve come every year to Unity because the quality of what they make is really good,â€ she said. â€œâ€œI wouldnâ€™t buy from them if the products werenâ€™t handmade.â€
Itâ€™s been Tracey Garganoâ€™s third Unity bazaar. This year, she brought her 6-year old daughter, Jazzmine, and her 4-year old son, Jesse.
â€œI love to come see all the different crafts the women have made,â€ she said.
Last year, the church raised $14,000.
â€œWeâ€™ve increased steadily the amount of money we raised over the years,â€ said Haas. â€œIn five years, weâ€™ve contributed over $50,000 to the church.â€
Part of the proceeds â€“ Haas estimates 10 percent â€“ go to help other ministries, local and remote.
â€œOne year, we even helped by purchasing building materials for a church in Mexico,â€ said Haas.
Locally, proceeds from the Unity craft sale have benefited Lincoln County organizations like Amyâ€™s House, Unityâ€™s kindergarten program and East Lincoln Christian Ministry.
This is the first year the church has held their event in a recently completed addition to Unity Presbyterian.
â€œWeâ€™re using funds this year to furnish this building and fund a missions trip,â€ said 2005 chairman Sue Thomas.
Controversy surrounded this yearâ€™s event, according to church member Polly White.
â€œSomebody stole many of our signs,â€ she said.
According to Haas, â€œsigns are the main way the church advertises the event.â€
Speculation is that the county may finally be enforcing their current sign ordinance.
â€œThese signs have cost us money and time,â€ said White. â€œWe could have been making crafts.
by Jon Mayhew