Despite the slick road conditions and inclement weather, St. John’s Lutheran Church officials said it didn't put a damper on their annual Holiday Fair and Soup Dinner held Sunday.
“It’s too hard to cancel and find another day that would work for everyone,” said Chellee Nelson, co-chair of the St. John’s Lutheran Church Holiday Fair & Soup Dinner, noting volunteers started preparing the soups three days in advance.
Established more than 20 years ago, Nelson said the event gathers more than 150 attendees annually weather permitting. Regardless of this year’s less than ideal weather conditions, Nelson said the event remained on track with a relatively high attendance rate.
Gail Fickle, member of the St. John’s Lutheran Church Board of Directors, was also surprised by the crowd gathered throughout the evening, when temperatures hovered right around 24 degrees.
“We just took a chance and it’s great to see the turnout,” said Fickle, as she signed attendees up for a drawing.
Attendees had the chance to take home prizes like Cargill beef, handmade quilts, gift cards, furniture and decorative items, among other winnings.
The event is the church’s biggest fundraiser of the year, consisting of a soup supper, vendors show, bake sale and auctions. Proceeds – averaging about $5,000 – collected from the fair will help out with the churches budget and upcoming mission programs.
“(It’s important) to keep (the church) going,” said attendee Shari Specht, who came to the fundraiser with her husband, Gaylen. “I think it’s a lot of getting together with people, talking and stuff, too. It’s nice for the community.”
Despite not being members of the church, the Spechts said they try to showcase their support for community events, noting they’ve attended several fundraisers throughout the year. Shari said the driving force that keeps her coming back to the event is the soup.
As the smell of chicken noodle soup and chili filled the halls of the church, attendees young and old occupied the cafeteria to enjoy bowls of soup and the overall camaraderie of the evening.
Despite the attendance rates, several vendors had to pull out from the event due to the weather and road conditions. Out of 12 vendors who signed up for the fair, just four were able to attend.
One vendor in attendance was William Kaven, owner of Dragons Tooth Jewelry. His business consists of selling handmade jewelry, alternative foods and dried fruits and herbs.
“I used to go to this church as a child,” the Schuyler native said.
Kaven is a regular at the church. He said it was nice to be able to meet with people he hasn’t seen in a long time in addition to supporting a good cause.
Overall, organizers were pleased with the amount of support they received from church parishioners and community members.
“We are so appreciative of all the people that came out, because it’s (very) cold,” Fickle said.
Natasya Ong is a reporter for the Schuyler Sun. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.