This year's fundraiser by St. Denis School will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 2 at the St. Denis Parish Center on Highway 61 in Benton. It will feature crafts of all kinds, specialty-food items, direct-sale items and more. Admission is free.
"It's more than the typical craft shows," said eighth grade parent Judy Scherer. "If you come to ours, it's nothing like the commercial ones. It's very homey, family and religious -- it's a nice show."
The event, which has turned into a community holiday tradition over the years, was initially Scherer's brainchild.
Seven years ago Scherer suggested the school conduct a fundraiser through a garage sale booth or craft sales.
"You wouldn't believe the number of people who were negative about it. They said we wouldn't get any customers to buy. The first year, I sold over 55 booths and we made close to $2,500," Scherer recalled.
Since that time the event has ballooned into a craft fair expected every year on the first Saturday in December.
Hundreds of visitors flock from not only the Benton area but from Sikeston, Cape Girardeau, Jackson and Marble Hill, Scherer said.
"It's convenient. It's spread out, and the vendors are different every year. It's a good cause and a lot of fun," said eighth grade parent Diane Dittlinger, who is in charge of booth space.
The event includes items from 40 to 50 vendors, Dittlinger said. Among items available will be handmade quilts, doll clothes, crocheted items, candles, florals, wood items and religious items. A booth with homemade foods like jams and dumplings will be set up. Vendors will also sell products from BeautiControl, Avon, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef and Rada cutlery.
"We have vendors set up from Whitewater and Arkansas," said Scherer, who used to track vendors for the sale. "The base keeps getting bigger and bigger each year and the crafters tell people where they'll be. Some will follow to the next show."
And often times crafters who come from bigger shows will mark down their items, Scherer said.
Vendor Cindy Childers of Sikeston will sell baby quilts and burp cloths at this year's craft sale. "We usually do pretty good," Childers said about her sales at the Benton event.
Childers' sister-in-law will sell items alongside Childers, and those include wood crafts and floral arrangements.
"It's very nice, and they make you feel at home. They're very accommodating," Childers said about those with the school.
Concessions will be available throughout the day. The menu includes homemade chili and chicken noodle soup for lunch. New this year is a breakfast menu of biscuits and gravy and other homemade items.
"A lot of the older people just come and eat. They like to sit down and watch the show. It's a place for visiting, too," Scherer said.
One the biggest draws is the event helps the students at St. Denis School, both Scherer and Dittlinger said.
"One way or another, all of these kids will benefit from this," Scherer said.
Throughout the day attendance prizes are awarded to those present at the fair. A raffle drawing is also held, and the St. Denis Booster Club sells live poinsettias.
Raffle ticket drawing prizes include a Christmas log cabin queen-size quilt, $100-BP fuel gift card, a 12-volt Skil cordless drill and a foosball table. Raffle tickets are 10 for $5 or $1 each.
"It's a small-town event but the turnout is big," Scherer said.
Booth space for vendors is still available. Rental for an 8-by-8 booth with one table provided is $10. For more information about booth rental, contact Dittlinger at (573) 545-3185.