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Buttons ‘n’ Bows. . . and baked goods and bee pollen

Annual craft fair raises $15,000 for Manhattan Catholic Schools

By Katherine Wartell

Candles, holiday decorations, beaded jewelry and household knickknacks lined the makeshift aisles of the Buttons ‘n’ Bows craft show Saturday, where the strong of heart braved the large crowds for the chance to snatch up homemade crafts for holiday gifts or their own collections.

The show, a fundraiser for Manhattan Catholic Schools, was spread throughout the school’s campus and the basement of Seven Dolors Catholic Church, where attendees could enter their names into a raffle for a black and white quilt.

Attendees could also purchase soap with the scent of any fruit blend imaginable, a family of penguins crafted from gourds or an entire year’s supply of pink bows and tutus for the small children in their lives.

More than 150 crafters rented booth space at the 32nd annual show, representing a mixture of first-timers and seasoned veterans.

Two of those veterans were the Fergusons, representing Koelzer Bee Farm out of Corning.

The farm, owned by Teri and Bill Koelzer, produces honey for food products and for soaps, lotion and lip balms. Bee pollen, taken by some for its nutrients, were also packaged for sale.

One of their draws Saturday was their shea butter once-a-day lotion bars, molded into various shapes including yin yang signs, roses, and, naturally, a bee on a honeycomb. The bars, which at first glance look like soap, are made of shea butter, beeswax, cocoa butter and coconut oil, and are intended to keep hands soft throughout the entire day.

Steve Ferguson said he has been working with the Koelzer’s for about seven years and has attended the Buttons ‘n’ Bows fair for about as long.

On Saturday, their booth was set up on the stage in the school’s cafeteria, which Ferguson said is not where they are typically located, causing concern for loyal customers who thought they didn’t attend. “I’ve had people come up and say, “We thought you weren’t coming,” Ferguson said.

Though Ferguson said he doesn’t typically like to sell at one-day shows, the Buttons ‘n’ Bows venue is one they always enjoy because of the people who attend the fair and those who organize it.

The show was also a teacher’s paradise with several crafters selling items perfect for the classroom, like five-time attendees Vicki Janosik and Michelle McDaniel who sell for Stampin’ Up!, a company that produces stamps and accessories their sellers use to create handmade cards and other crafts.

One of their popular items was a “Teacher’s Survival Kit,” a baggie that included such important items as paper clips, candies and crayons.

They sold their wares across from another veteran, Darlene Bradford, who owns DC Therapeutic Creations and sells magnetic jewelry intended to relieve bodily pain.

Bradford, who is based in Topeka, said she started making the jewelry after she found that it helped her with her own arthritic pain.

She said she has been coming to Buttons ‘n’ Bows for eight years. She always sets up shop in the gymnasium, located across the street from the school’s main building. “(The show) has always been a good sale,” Bradford said, adding that some shows aren’t always organized as considerately.

Leah Fliter, a parent volunteer for the show, said the entire event comes together with the aid of all the parents who divvy up the responsibilities, including helping constructing the booths, helping the crafters, baking and clean-up.

While crafters keep their profits, the school makes money through the entrance fee of $2 per person, a bake sale and the fees crafters pay to rent their booth space.

Fliter said the price of the booth space varies depending on the booth’s location.

In 2011, Fliter said the school raised approximately $15,000 this year. “The money goes to helping out teachers,” she said.

Fliter and another parent volunteer, Diane Haug, estimated that about 2,000 people would roam the halls for the show over the course of the day.

The craft show is the only fundraiser that the Parent-Teacher Organization at Manhattan Catholic Schools conducts during the year.

“That’s why so much work goes into it,”  Fliter said.

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