I figured I knew what a holiday bazaar was, despite never having been to one until this year.
I did not.
Holiday bazaars are not the quaint, sedate, Good Housekeeping-style affairs I imagined. I mean, they are that, sort of. They have the handcrafted, PTA-bake-sale, knickknacks-and-knit-scarves vibe in spades.
But they’re also much more than that. Last Saturday’s bazaar at the Harman Center, for instance, was a whir of activity with a crush of people all happily milling about while announcers pulled winning raffle tickets and the smells of baked goods tickled noses. The stuff for sale was exactly what I expected — handmade candles and Christmas decorations and baby’s rattles — and not at all what I expected — a table full of used romance paperbacks, a Betty Boop flask, a Confederate flag belt buckle, Seattle Seahawks everything, direct-sales items from Scentsy and Doterra.
My favorite vendor in the whole place, with apologies to also-quite-lovely South Naches Women’s Club and their baked goods, was Sisters Odds and Ends, a table run by Suzi Winters of Harrah and her sister, Shari Elliott. They sold handmade kids clothes and toys among an assortment of other well-crafted items.
Winters, who runs a beefalo ranch for her day job, told me she doesn’t do the bazaar to make money. The Harman Center bazaar is the only one she and Elliott do every year, because they spend a lot of time making their wares and usually sell most of them in a single day. She does it because she enjoys making useful, high-quality items. She also likes the people, having met some regulars over the four years she and Elliott have set up shop.
“I do it for fun,” Winters said. “Anyone who does handwork like this, you’re not going to make minimum wage. You do it because you’re creative and you like to. ... To me, a smile on a child’s face or just the appreciation of something that’s handmade is what I love to see.”
That makes her an anomaly in this bazaar ecosytem. For most people who sell things at holiday bazaars, the season means getting a table at as many events as they can. And there are about eleventy billion of them in the Yakima Valley between October and December.
Each has its own style. Some serve soup. Some feature live music. Some donate table fees to charities. Some are baldly capitalist. Some have a dozen vendors. Some have a hundred.
None of them are exactly what I thought holiday bazaars were. But Winters said one other thing that stuck with me. She likes selling things at the Harman Center bazaar every year because people at bazaars are glad to be there. She’s right. The bazaars I’ve been to have been crowded and busy and noisy and, somehow, delightful.
“I like the people,” Winters said. “They’re always in a good mood. They’re always very nice.”
A (definitely, hopefully, maybe, kind of) complete list of upcoming holiday bazaars in the Yakima area:
• Holly Jolly Bazaar
8 a.m.-3 p.m.; Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 1111 W. Fremont Ave.; free admission; www.ourladyoflourdes-selah.org
- Country Christmas Bazaar & Bake Sale
9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Swauk-Teanaway Grange, 1361 Ballard Road West in Cle Elum; free admission; www.swaukteanawaygrange.com, 509-857-2580
- Eagles Holiday Bazaar
9 a.m.-3 p.m.; Yakima Eagles, 307 W. Chestnut Ave.; free admission; www.facebook.com/Yakima-Eagles-289-256379201676531, 509-453-6216
- Winter Bazaar
10 a.m.-3 p.m.; CrossPoint Church, 7803 Ahtanum Road; free admission; 509-910-1812
- Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair at Glenwood Square
10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Glenwood Square, 5110 Tieton Drive; free admission; www.facebook.com/glenwoodsquare, 509-966-3580
- Tree Top Holiday Bazaar
9 a.m.-3 p.m.; Selah Civic Center, 216 S. First St. in Selah; www.facebook.com/TreeTop
- Holy Redeemer Annual Bazaar
9 a.m.-3 p.m.; Holy Redeemer Church; 1707 S. Third Ave.; free admission; www.holyredeemeryakima.com, 509-853-8937
- Holiday Craft and Food Bazaar
8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunnyside Senior Center, 1400 Federal Way in Sunnyside; free admission; www.facebook.com/pg/Sunnyside-Senior-Center-105017587565510
• Pink Ribbon Holiday Bazaar
9 a.m.-3 p.m.; Meadowbrook Estates clubhouse, 7610 W. Nob Hill Blvd.; free admission; 509-575-6600
- Homespun Crafters Fall Bazaar
9 a.m.-3 p.m.; West Valley Fire-Rescue administrative office, 10000 Zier Road; free admission; www.facebook.com/WVFD12,
- Stanton Holiday Bazaar
9 a.m.-2 p.m.; Stanton Academy, 802 River Road; free admission; www.facebook.com/StantonAcademy.ysd, 509-910-3791
- Yakima Farmer’s Market Holiday Bazaar
9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Glenwood Square, 5110 Tieton Drive; free admission; www.facebook.com/YakimaFarmersMarket, 509-457-5765
- Peach Tree Retirement Center Annual Bazaar
10:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; Peach Tree Retirement Center, 2800 W. Viola Ave.; free admission; www.facebook.com/peachtreeretirementcenter, 509-248-1766
• Wesley United Methodist Bazaar
9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Wesley United Methodist Church, 14 N. 48th Ave.; free admission; www.wesleyofyakima.org
- Holy Family’s Holiday Bazaar
8 a.m.-3 p.m.; Holy Family Catholic Church, 5315 Tieton Drive; free admission; www.facebook.com/HolyFamilyChurchYakima
- West Valley Bazaar
9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Wide Hollow Elementary School, 1000 S. 72nd Ave.; free admission
- Christmas of Hope Holiday Bazaar
9 a.m.-3 p.m.; Glenwood Square, 5110 Tieton Drive; free admission; 509-833-2739
- Selah Intermediate School Parent Teacher Student Organization Holiday Bazaar
9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Selah Intermediate School, 1401 W. Fremont Ave. in Selah; free admission; www.facebook.com/SISPTSO
- Mighty Tieton Holiday Crafts & Antique Bazaar
8 a.m.-3 p.m.; Mighty Tieton Warehouse, 608 Wisconsin Ave. in Tieton; $7 admission before 9 a.m., $5 admission from 9 to 10 a.m., $3 admission from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., free after 2 p.m.; www.facebook.com/mightytieton,
- Dance Explosion Association Holiday Bazaar
10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Selah Civic Center, 216 S. First St. in Selah; free admission; www.facebook.com/DanceExplosionAssociation
- Zillah Middle School Holiday Bazaar
9 a.m.-3 p.m.; Zillah Middle School, 1301 Cutler Way in Zillah; free admission
- Tieton Cider Works Holiday Bazaar
1-7 p.m.; Tieton Cider Works, 619 W. J St.; free admission; www.facebook.com/tietonciderworks, 509-571-1430