@South County News/The Daily News, reprinted with permission
The parking lot was full Saturday, Nov. 17, when I drove up to the Woodland Care Center for its annual holiday bazaar. Inside, tables stretched across a hallway and filled a side room, and signs directed shoppers to more tables upstairs.
Danna Barbo of Ridgefield, chairwoman for the event, sold cuddly bears from a Christmas tree for $5 each, and goodies, ornaments and jewelry from the Woodland Care Center’s tables. “Residents,” said Barbo, “put the ornaments together and baked the cookies.”
“Do they have use of a kitchen?” I asked.
“They use an Otis Spunkmeyer cookie oven,” she replied, referring to the commercial cookie ovens often used by convenience stores and hotels to offer fresh-baked cookies made from Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough. “The fudge,” she said, “is made by the staff in the kitchen.”
Two-year-old Kylie Robertson, daughter of Jennifer and Eric Robertson of Woodland, knew exactly what she wanted. She walked up to the Christmas tree and chose a fuzzy bear the color of cotton candy. Then she also wrapped her arms around a sky-blue bear.
Kylie’s mom took the bears from her daughter and held them out. “Which one do you want?” she asked. Kylie quickly chose the pink one, and then reached for the blue bear. Barbo, unable to resist the toddler’s cute smile, let her have both bears for $5.
“We buy the bears,” said Barbo, “and the residents put the ribbons on them. A lot of them have never had a teddy bear. If there are leftovers, we use them as Christmas gifts for the residents.”
In another room, I visited with Pat Madsen at her booth, where she told me the Woodland Care Center opened in 1973. The bazaar gives her a chance to visit with friends where she previously worked as director of nurses and then administrator. “We started the bazaar as a patient activity making manger scenes,” she said.
What started as a care-center activity became a community event, and the bazaar gives Woodland Care Center residents an opportunity to buy Christmas gifts for their family members.
Evie Leonard of Vancouver sold items from the next table. Leonard told me she had been an RN at the center for eight years. Next to her, Pat Pearson, formerly of Amboy but now living in Salmon Creek, displayed her crewel work.
Asked what crewel is, she replied, “It’s embroidery in wool.” Before her retirement, Pearson was charge nurse at the center, then director of nurses, and then charge nurse again, working every shift. She worked at the center from 1980 to 1986.
“There are two other bazaars in Woodland this weekend,” Barbo said. “We share flyers.”
Hearing that, I next visited the Holiday Boutique at St. Philip’s Parish, where a column of red and white balloons on the walkway hinted at the festivities inside. I said hello to Pat Kenny, who was enjoying a bowl of “white chicken chili.” It was time for lunch, and the chili smelled great. I bought a steaming bowlful and joined Kenny and others at a table. The chili was as good as it smelled, and before I left, I bought a cookbook to get the recipe. The cookbook, called “Feeding the Flock,” is a collection of favorite recipes by the St. Philip Altar Society of Woodland and the St. Joseph Parish of Kalama.
My next stop was the largest bazaar of the three, the Sno Flake Bazaar, held at the elementary school gym. The parking lot was full, and most people leaving the building carried plastic sacks of handcrafted treasures. As I entered the building , I saw the Behrendsen Farms booth operated by Ruth Wendt and Ann Bradshaw. Their booth offered local-area products including honey and aprons, plus beautiful baskets made in Ghana, West Africa.
In the main room of the bazaar, the first table was occupied by Nancy’s Potholders, owned by Nancy Johnson of Woodland. “I’ve had the same space every year but one since 1994,” Johnson said. “I have a lot of fun and love doing it.” Husband Noel buys a lot of raffle tickets, she said. When I talked with him, he had already won three nice prizes.
One vendor, Meredith DeBuse, was there selling handmade doll clothes. Asked how she got started selling doll clothes, she said, “I got into the doll thing 10 years ago. Mother made doll clothes for me.” DeBuse didn’t have daughters herself, but now has seven granddaughters to sew for.
Charlene Brooks and Kathy Huffman, both of Ariel, were working at the bazaar to earn funds to help the Pleasant View Community Church build a home for a needy family in San Vicente, Baja California, Mexico. Along with handmade items for sale, a quilt was raffled. About 15 women contributed their time and materials to supply the handcrafted merchandise and the raffle prize.
After attending all three bazaars in town, I had been well fed, had purchased some gifts and had the recipe for the famous white chicken chili. I had visited with old friends and made new acquaintances and could see why so many area residents look forward to these three bazaars each year.
Visit Pat Nelson’s Web site at www.storystorm.wordpress.com.