Craft Fair Baking

Arlene Maxwell of Casper prepared hundreds of loaves of home-baked breads for the Community Recreation Foundation Craft Fair in 2013.

File, Star-Tribune

In the tiny northern Natrona County community of Midwest, it’s called a bazaar. In Casper, in the massive Casper Events Center, it’s a craft fair.

Both happen Saturday, and both include irresistible, handmade items perfect for holiday gift-giving or decorating those awkward empty shelves or walls in your living space.

And what will the neighbors think if you don’t have something darling on your porch for fall, Thanksgiving and Christmas?

The 40th annual Community Bazaar is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday in the small gym at Midwest School. The Community Recreation Foundation’s annual Craft Fair is 3 to 8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Events Center.

Judy Wood has lived in Midwest for about 45 years. She figures she’s been in charge of the bazaar for 10 or 15 years.

“I’m no spring chicken, I think I’m 73,” she said.

The bazaar began in Edgerton, where Wood lives, just across the state highway intersection from Midwest. It outgrew the Edgerton Town Hall, and has been held in several places throughout its life span.

“Basically, the Methodist Church was wanting to do a money-making thing, so they decided to have a salad luncheon, and so we moved it to the school cafeteria so we could use the walk-in refrigerator to keep the salads cold,” Wood said.

Asked how many helpers she has, Wood laughed.

“People come at the last week and say, ‘oh, I’ll help you.’ Basically, I start when school starts and finish up with everything a month after it’s over,” she said.

In addition to planning the event, finding a place, seeking crafters and doing the publicity by hand, Wood also creates items to sell.

“This year, I’ve got knitting, crocheting and some sewing, some baby quilts and afghans, some salsa and some beet pickles,” she said. “No jelly this year, no time.”

Linda Holzer from the church coordinates the salad luncheon, and Wood appreciates the help.

Entrance to the bazaar is free and the church ladies request a $4 donation for lunch, which is served from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“It’s generally the busiest in the morning, while everyone’s tables are nice and full,” Wood said.

Midwest School was closed last year because of a gas leak underground, and the bazaar was moved to the recreation center.

“That was too small, and now that the school’s open, they offered us the small gym. It will work fine. I can’t handle anything bigger than that,” she said.

At the Events Center in Casper, admission is free, but a $3 donation is recommended to support the efforts of the Community Recreation Foundation. Proceeds from the craft fair benefit the foundation’s scholarship program that provides financial assistance to youth and senior citizens for recreation opportunities.

Organizers expect more than 200 booths of both handcrafted items and home-based businesses such as Scentsy, Lip Sense and Lularoe.

Strollers are welcome and booths are located both on the concourse and the floor of the events center.

Highland Park Community Church used to boast the largest annual holiday craft fair around. Since its end, the Recreation Foundation event is the largest in the area.

Follow community news editor Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @WYOSAS

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Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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