The second Saturday in November is always set aside for two big fundraising sales in Great Bend. On Nov. 9, crowds flocked to the Dominican Sisters of Peace motherhouse for the Sisters’ annual Mission Benefit Bazaar and to the Panther Activities Center (PAC) at Great Bend High School for the 14th annual Panther Paw Craft Festival.
Sister Eloise Hertel said the Dominican Sisters of Peace fundraiser benefits the sisters in Nigeria and the poor in Kansas and Colorado. The bazaar featured homemade items including embroidered tea towels, useful scrubbies and personal greeting cards, and a variety of jams and other edibles. The homemade noodles sell out every year and it appeared that 2019 would not be an exception, although there were still a few packages left in the final hour of the bazaar.
People could also enjoy breakfast or lunch in the dining hall, enter raffles for gift baskets or bid on silent auction items.
Sister Martina Stegman was in charge of a room filled with African artifacts that the sisters have collected since their first missions to Nigeria in the 1950s. These, too, were for sale. “Thirty of our sisters have been there,” Sister Martina said of the Nigerian mission. Today the religious community there has 77 sisters who know six tribal languages. Among them currently is Sister Rita Schwarzenberger from Great Bend.
Sister Eloise said the annual missions bazaar has been a tradition at least since the 1950s, but before that there were smaller versions to raise funds to build the convent in 1941.
Panther Paw Craft Festival
The Panther Paw Craft Festival is newer; this was the 14th annual fundraiser for Great Bend High School’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club. FBLA President Dinah Newman said money raised by admissions, table rentals and the FBLA bake sale on Saturday will help with club expenses, including trips. Members will attend a regional competition at Kinsley in January and the state competition at Topeka in March.
FBLA is a national organization and its membership in Great Bend is growing, Newman said. All but 10 of the GBHS members took time out to help with the craft festival on Saturday. “I’m really proud of our turnout,” she said.
A variety of vendors had tables at the PAC on Saturday. This included school groups such as JAG-K, where volunteers sold metal yard art created by the GBHS welding class.
JAG-K members Deklyn Cravan, Jasmyn Marley and Greg Sommers were on duty for one shift at the craft show. They said their work Saturday would count as volunteer hours but the proceeds were going to the welding class.
There was also a concession area, and Educators Rising, a club for future educators, was in charge of a kids zone with crafts and activities that youngsters could attend while their parents shopped.
Great Bend Middle School Booster Club member Ellen Mermis said this was that group's first year as a vendor at the craft festival, but it won’t be their last. “This has been a good place for us to get our (Panther) apparel out to the public,” she said.