October 28, 2021

Present options galore at annual Christmas Bazaar

Shopping begins

Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Margaret Nicholas of Cortland picks hand-crafted hand towels at the annual St. Mary’s craft bazaar in Cortland.

Elly Buchalla smiled, showing off the sparkling red and gold miniature sleigh with gift boxes she had just bought.

With a little more than a month to go until her favorite holiday –– Christmas — she had skipped past Thanksgiving and was ready Saturday to decorate and get gifts. She had already decided to place the sleigh on the front counter of her store, Elly’s Variety on Route 281 in Cortlandville.

Buchalla had gone out with her grandchildren and daughter-in-law, Ashley Letts, to get some Christmas shopping done.

The two women were elated they had chosen to attend St. Mary’s Christmas Bazaar. They got in the spirit of shopping upon entering the door and seeing all the decorations, from wreaths to sparkling red stockings hung on the wall and a Christmas tree.

“It’s just so beautiful here and there are so many amazing things for sale,” Buchalla said.

The bazaar is a fundraiser to defray tuition costs at the school. Coordinator Kelly Hirsch said on average $10,000 to $12,000 is raised each year. And while nobody was certain on the exact number of years the event has been going on, for teacher Sheila Guido said it’s had to be at least 40 years.

“I can’t remember a point in my lifetime I didn’t come to this,” she said.

The bazaar consisted of one room filled with 42 vendors selling their crafts. Letts got her husband some gifts by roaming the tables. People sold candles, gift baskets and clothing, among other items. Letts’ husband is a car and sports guy, so she got him some bumper stickers.

Volunteer elf OnnaJean Votra helps out at St. Mary’s School’s seasonal bazaar Saturday in Cortland.

Another room, called Attic Treasures, featured used items, baked goods and Christmas cards made by students.

It’s where Ronna Blume found a couple of Christmas-themed cookie canisters. She began listing the various kinds of cookies she bakes — snickerdoodles, Mexican wedding cookies, thumbprints and the list goes on.

“I make about 20 different kinds of cookies for the holidays,” she said.

She also found a red Christmas sign to hang in her house, while her two grandkids found toys and art supplies.

Christian Kolb, 6, was amused by a mini hand-held version of the game Hungry Hungry Hippo and an Etch A Sketch. Kolb’s sister Cloey Allen, 11, was holding an art set that included six miniature unicorn sculptures she could paint.

Christian Kolb, 6, of Cortland, left, watches his sister Cloey Allen, 11, try out the vintage toy game “Barrel of Monkeys” Saturday at the St. Mary’s school seasonal bazaar.

“I’m really into art,” she said.

However, those kinds of gifts were not what they wanted most for Christmas.

Allen was hoping for a puppy she could name Prince or Princess and Kolb wanted a toy electric motorcycle.

And as the shoppers left, bags in hand, volunteers at the event wished them happy holidays.