According to her friends at the Dominican Sisters of Peace, the quality and quantity of Sister Charlotte’s Unrein’s jelly and jams is legendary.
After seeing the crowd lined up at 7 a.m., most would agree the annual mission benefit bazaar is something to behold. The crowd arrived early and stayed through mid-afternoon. Lunch was a virtual feast, chock full of home-cooked food and desserts.
Sister Charlotte requires several months to prepare her collection of jams and jellies. It takes about 30 minutes to prepare a batch of jelly. But she prepares dozens and dozens of jars. The Schoenchen native has been immersed in church work for 67 years and worked as a nurse in Garden City.
She said she likes the enjoyment people get from buying the reasonably-priced jams and jellies. About the only complaint was newly-adopted state regulations prevented pickles from being sold.
“I’m happy when I see all the people lined up,” Sister Charlotte said. “It’s a fun hobby for me. I start preparing them in April and I’m usually done in September.”
Most years, the sandhill plum jelly is top-rated, but Sister Charlotte concedes that, “sometimes they change their mind from year-to-year. I observe which ones sell the best every year.”
Other top sellers are strawberry, blueberry and strawberry rhubarb. Some of her favorites are sandhill plum, strawberry, and strawberry rhubarb. She gets her rhubarb from her nephews and grows much of her ingredients from nearby cherry, peach, pear and elderberry trees. Raspberry and strawberry patches also are used.
She didn’t realize she had a gift of jelly-making until her help was requested.
“I’ve learned a lot by doing this. I’ve got experience behind me. There are things you learn along the way,” she said. “I taste-test them.”
Sister Jean Goering said the local Dominican Sisters of Peace appreciate the support they receive, both locally and regionally. The weekend bazaar features more than 100 volunteers, including school-age children. Some sisters came from Colorado and Ohio in their annual pilgrimage to Great Bend. The local bazaar first started in 1929.
“It’s always a lot of fun when the doors open at 7 a.m. They are always lined up,” Sister Jean said. “They keep coming back every year, knowing they are supporting a charitable cause.”
Benefits are donated to several charitable causes, notably supporting Dominican Sisters in Nigeria. Other causes helped are Catholic charities and missions in Peru and the Caribbean.