The fifth annual Christmas Bazaar filled Dorchester Village Civic Center with the sights, sounds and smells of the season Saturday.
Center board of directors President Barbara Martin and Secretary Julie Martin spearheaded the bazaar with help from a plethora of volunteers.
“The bazaar is an opportunity for people in this area who have creative genes to display their wares and for local peoples to come and purchase things for Christmas. Most of the items are handmade and unique,” Julie Martin said.
Vendors sold a variety of items, including Christmas ornaments, hand-crafted hats and scarves, decorations, jewelry, figurines carved from wood, mosaics and more. Fish dinners, hamburgers and hot dogs were available for purchase, and little ones could have their photos taken with Santa inside the historic schoolhouse.
“The one-room school was built in 1852. It was across the street, about a half a mile away, and it was literally falling down. We went to the owners and asked if they could give it to us to restore,” Barbara Martin explained. “We actually had to tear it down then rebuild it, because it wasn’t in any condition to be moved. We have since restored it and are refurnishing it as it would have been in the 1800s.”
The Dorchester Village Civic Center, originally used as the Dorchester Consolidated School from 1938-52, at one point served as a community center but later closed.
“The roof went bad and the building just got in terrible condition. We were trying to get a group together to get on board for the building and then in 2008, everything fell into place to start the restoration process. We got a good enough donation to start with a new roof and people saw that we were determined to do something,” Julie Martin said. “We’ve had hundreds of man hours and volunteers. Everything has been either donations or through fundraisers — very little grant money. The center is a nonprofit organization. We’re not trying to make money; we just want to furnish a place, a venue for the whole community to use.”
Local artists Lindsay Horton and Mimi Ryan, who run Georgia Girl Art Paint Parties, set up shop at Saturday’s bazaar, as they have done in years past. They help their customers host painting parties at various locations — churches, private homes, restaurants and community centers. Horton and Ryan sold paintings at the bazaar, booked parties and shared information on their charitable programs.
“We have two different programs. One is called ‘Paint It Forward,’ where we collect donated paintings from different people. We put inspirational quotes on them, and then after collecting about two dozen, we take them to nursing homes and children’s hospitals — anywhere they need comfort,” Ryan said.
Their second program is the Intentional Meaningful Acts of Kindness Patrol, or the “I am OK Patrol” for short.
“We collect donations, toiletries, clothing, blankets, toys and books, and then pass them out. We just did one for adults before Thanksgiving and gave out over 100 blessing bags. The weekend before Christmas, we’re going to do it for the kids,” Ryan said.
On Dec. 20, Georgia Girl Art Paint Parties will host its first Midway Christmas paint party at the Midway Police Department with Midway Mayor Dr. Clemontine Washington.
At another table, Tina Norby helped Caroline Alexander sell Christmas ornaments.
“The bazaar is nice and a lot of people get the chance to share what they make. The community comes together, so everybody runs into everybody and enjoys other people’s talents,” Norby said. “I’m really enjoying it. I’m looking forward to the fish fry. I brought plenty (to sell) — some homemade scarves and hats, and I’ve done some Christmas shopping.”