The Chapel Heights United Methodist Church held its annual “Holiday Bazaar” last Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The bazaar offered crafts, gift baskets, lunch, a “treasure bin” section, bake sale, and Christmas fruitcakes.

Becky Weible, the missions board manager who does most of the cooking, said: “One of our famous things is our fruitcakes – it’s a big thing for our church.”

Fruitcakes take the congregation about three days, Weible said. On the first day, they cut and weigh all the dates and fruits needed. During the second day, the ingredients are mixed and the cakes are baked. The third day is used for icing and labeling fruitcakes.

According to Char Goodman, who calls herself the “chef and bottle washer,” 262 fruitcakes were baked this year.

Pastor Cheri Miskimen, who calls herself the “cheerleader” of the event, said, “It’s not the typical fruitcake. Most people your age or the generation above you think of fruitcake and want to go “eww”. These are different.

The congregation also holds craft classes weeks in advance to create handicrafts to sell at the bazaar, Weible said.

“People are coming out of carpentry,” Weible said. “Even though we haven’t earned a penny, the brotherhood of being able to work together especially feels more valuable after covid, after we haven’t been able to. Many members of our congregation are elderly and they need this fellowship.

Weible said this year is dedicated to Karol Machmeier, a member of their congregation who recently passed away. Machmeier made baskets of items to sell at the bazaar.

“She was really artistic. She would make flower arrangements and bring them,” Weible said, “Her baskets are beautiful and brought in a lot of money. Some people actually came just to see Karol’s baskets.

Weible said that one of Machmeier’s passions was Chippewa Valley Street Ministry. All proceeds from this year’s dinner and gift baskets will go to this program on his behalf.

Typically, dinner and food money goes to the church’s mission team while all other funds are used for things the church needs, Goodman said.

The event has been around for at least 40 years, Miskimen said. This predates his role as pastor.

The first year, Miskimen was the pastor of the congregation, she dressed up as a clown to be a host; she even did a voice. Someone who had a clown phobia attended the event and got scared. Feeling bad, she put the clown “on vacation” from other events.

“They are such great people and I am amazed at the volunteer hours,” Miskimen said. “Hours and hours. It’s all given time, and the majority goes to missions. It’s just like, how many people would work so hard and so long for nothing?

Miskimen said the church will also host an international fall dinner in November for international students at which they will serve a Thanksgiving meal. This event had been postponed for a few years due to COVID-19, so the congregation does not know what attendance will be like.

Heffernan can be reached at [email protected]


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