Saturday fundraiser in Benton banks on variety

Friday, December 2, 2011

BENTON, Mo. -- For the past 12 years, the annual Winter Wonderland of Treasures Sale in Benton has promoted its variety of handmade crafts.

And there's a good reason for that, according to event organizer Judy Scherer.

"When people come to a craft show, they want to see crafts," Scherer said, adding she limits the number of direct-sales booths to three to five of the total 55 vendors.

This year's fundraiser by St. Denis School will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the St. Denis Parish Center on U.S. 61 in Benton. Proceeds benefit both St. Denis Catholic School and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

The event will feature handmade crafts, specialty food items, direct-sale items and more. Admission is free.

"People want to see a variety, and I go to great lengths to find vendors who may have neat things and different things people want so that we don't have 15 of the same booths," Scherer said.

Some of this year's vendors will sell wooden ornaments, tutus, embroidered pillow cases, baby items, handmade purses and jewelry, personalized T-shirts and blue jean aprons.

"Anything and everything you want, we'll probably have it," said Scherer, who sells handmade quilts that are both hand-sewn and machine-sewn.

New this year is a Scott City vendor who will serve a variety of flavored coffees and cappuccinos and also sell those by the pound, Scherer said.

"The booths with food go over really good. There are homemade chicken noodles and candies, and we do have people making food and selling pecans," Scherer said.

Animal puppets made out of wool, homemade Barbie doll furniture and clothes along with several religious items will also be available, Scherer said.

"One vendor takes old antiques and makes them into new," Scherer said.

Vendor Taryn LeGrand-Lovett of Charleston sells handmade rosaries.

"I started making the rosaries several years ago," LeGrand-Lovett said. "I made one for my mother using the birthstones for all of her children. It was so colorful."

Since then LeGrand-Lovett has made rosaries using glass beads.

"It's a really nice event. It seems like everybody really has a good time and everyone is so pleasant -- the vendors and the participants," LeGrand-Lovett said.

The $15 booth price for vendors is reasonable, too, she added.

Since it began 12 years ago, the event has ballooned into a craft fair expected every year on the first Saturday in December.

"This is a very big deal in Benton," Scherer said. "People come from all over the surrounding areas."

Between 800 and 900 visitors come from not only the Benton area but as far north as Perryville and Ste. Genevieve and as far south as Sikeston, Dexter and Poplar Bluff.

The event, which has also turned into a community holiday tradition over the years, was initially Scherer's brainchild.

"We were tired of selling candy bars [as fundraisers], and I said (to parents) yard sales and craft shows are big right now and why don't we have that," Scherer said.

Despite some naysayers, the school went forward with a craft fundraiser, and it proved successful, Scherer recalled.

"The community loved it, and this is our 12th year," Scherer said.

Concessions homemade by women of the parish and St. Denis eighth-grade students' parents are also available throughout the day.

"We have the guests who come just for the food, which is very good," Scherer said.

The menu includes homemade chili and chicken noodle soup for lunch. A breakfast menu of biscuits and gravy and other homemade items like cinnamon rolls will also be available.

There will be attendance drawings all day and raffle prizes, including a 50-50 raffle for cash.

"The attendance prizes are just outstanding," Scherer said.

All of the vendors donate items from their booths for the attendance prizes, Scherer said.

In years past, prizes have included cedar rocking chairs, fuel gift cards and handmade items.

Pertinent address:

115 Winchester St., Benton, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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