The Gamma Alpha Christmas Fair at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds gives shoppers a jump on holiday shopping as it is traditionally held the weekend before Thanksgiving

The holiday season isn't just around the corner - it's here!

It's time for caroling, shopping and eating delicious homemade cookies, cakes, candies and breads. And did I mention shopping?

It is also time for bringing out all the traditions that are so much a part of the holiday season.

This year, at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds, the local chapter of Beta Sigma Phi is hosting its 27th annual Christmas bazaar from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23. Admission charge is $1 and parking is free. Beta Sigma Phi is an international social, cultural and service organization founded in 1931 by Walter W. Ross to provide women a social outlet, cultural forum and an opportunity for service to their communities.

Shoppers are sure to find items on their gift buying lists. Those looking for slices of tradition won't be disappointed, either.

"We've been asked in the past to make this bazaar a two day event," says Heather Aho, one of the bazaar's organizers. "It has always been held the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and we've decided to stay with the tradition and keep it a one day event."

Another tradition associated with holidays is the gathering of the young and the young at heart, and the bazaar promises to have something for everyone.

The items offered for sale at the bazaar have to be new, or handcrafted articles. This year's selections include, but are not limited to, birdhouses, tole painted items, soaps, pet toys, ornaments, beaded jewelry, aprons, tablecloths, music boxes and candy bouquets.

"We have 66 booths set up already," says Aho. "Hopefully, the bazaar will grow into the arena part of the fairgrounds."

Christmas music will be played through the day and of course Santa will be there, giving shoppers the chance to have their pictures taken with him. This year people will be able to take their Santa pictures home for $4 with a non-perishable food donation or $5 without the food item.

"Last year was Santa's first year at our bazaar," says Aho. "We're hoping this year will be a bigger success."

New this year is a drawing for which each exhibitor is asked to donate one item. The number of exhibitors participating will determine the number of drawings held. Tickets will sell for $1 each or six for $5 with the proceeds going to the local food bank.

Cindy Peake, organizer of the Starving Artist Holiday Art Faire, held Dec. 6 through 8, says this event also highlights the tradition of bringing people together. "There's all kinds of stuff at our fair for every generation, from young to old," Peake says. More information on this event can be found in the box at right.

Handcrafted items, homemade baked goods, Santa Claus, Christmas music, helping those less fortunate and uniting the young and the young at heart are just some of the holiday traditions awaiting visitors during the holiday bazaar season.


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