BY PAUL BICKLEY
An event that began as a way to support civil rights in the 1950s continues today, helping support social justice efforts here and around the world.
This year, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington will celebrate the 60th anniversary of its annual Holiday Art Fair and Bazaar. According to church records, the first bazaar was held in 1958 at the Unitarian Fellowship House on North Indiana Avenue. That was also the site of UU services before the 1964 purchase of the 2120 N. Fee Lane property where the church is now located.
Ruellen Fessenbecker and Richard LeDuc, co-chairs of this year’s event, say the bazaar was originally much simpler, offering crafts made by church members along with coffee and doughnuts. Fessenbecker says the purpose of the first bazaar was to raise funds to send the minister to the South for a civil rights event. “The church’s emphasis on social justice continues today,” she says. “Our Social Justice Committee has 13 subcommittees.”
That first bazaar earned $876.76. Last year it made about $12,000, some of which goes to the church’s Women’s Alliance, which has always directed the event; the rest goes to the general operating fund.
Thirty-three regional artists participated in last year’s juried art fair, which features glassworks, paintings and prints, pottery, fiber arts, jewelry, and woodworks. The fair also sells crafts and toys from countries where the UU’s Social Justice activists have worked. “They take suitcases full of clothes to distribute [in those countries] and come back with suitcases full of artifacts for the fair,” LeDuc says.
The bazaar includes a book sale, a white-elephant sale, a Cookie Walk, and a Gourmet Galaxy.
“Last year, we sold half a ton of cookies, and probably half a ton in Gourmet Galaxy—cakes, pies, fudge, caramels, and jams,” LeDuc says.
Planning begins in January. The committee has 15 subcommittees, requiring 75 volunteers working 2,000 hours—the equivalent of one person working full time for a year, explains LeDuc.
This year’s Holiday Art Fair and Bazaar will be held Friday, November 30, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, December 1, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Visit uubloomington.org for more information.