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Crafty time of year
Great Bend FBLA and Dominican Sisters welcome the holiday season with craft sale and Bazaar
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A steady stream of visitors stopped at the Dominican Sisters of Peace convent Saturday morning for the Annual Mission Benefit Bazaar. - photo by Veronica Coons

Saturday morning, Great Bend craft lovers had no excuse to not get their steps in with two major craft sales happening just a mile apart. This second weekend in November is when the Dominican Sisters of Peace hold their Annual Mission Benefit Bazaar where handcrafted items made by the sisters are sold to support sister’s mission in Nigeria, Africa, as well as the poor of Kansas and Colorado. Doors opened at 7 a.m., and it was a steady stream of visitors all morning. Sewing, knitting, crocheting, paper crafting, repurposed and recycled items were just some of the creations sisters produced, but it was the jams, jellies and numerous baked goods where crowds paused longest, marveling at the variety of fruit combinations before them. Apricot brandy, cherry rhubarb, elderberry, triple berry, chokecherry, strawberry gooseberry, blackberry, and many other combinations made it hard to choose just one. Plus, there were the cinnamon rolls and kolaches. Only the strongest did not give in to their sweet tooth. 

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At the Panther Paw Craft Festival at the Panther Athletic Center, vendors from around the state offered crafts, home business products, decor and food for customers who came in search of that special something, and to support the high school’s FBLA program. - photo by Veronica Coons

And for many visitors, the Dominican Sisters of Peace was only the first stop before they went on to visit the Great Bend High School FBLA annual Panther Paw Craft Festival at the Panther Athletic Center (some could even be overheard making plans to make a return trip at noon for the sisters’ soup lunch).

Dinah Newman is a sophomore at Great Bend High School. She’s been in FBLA for two years. 

She had been there since 6:30 a.m., helping vendors unload and carry in their boxes during set-up for the sale, and she wasn’t alone. It’s all hands on deck for FBLA members for their only fundraiser of the year, Newman said.  Club proceeds, from entrance fees for shoppers and booth fees for vendors, as well as concessions and baked goods sales, are used to send members to qualifying competitions at both the state, and if they are lucky, the national level. 

“We’re doing really good so far this year,” Newman said. “We’ve had a lot of new freshmen coming in and getting involved.”

Vendors included home sales businesses, local crafters and artisans, and even one young lady whose sales helped to fund her charitable work. Lauren Seachris, a teen from Dodge City, owns and operates Lauren’s Treat, specializing in homemade dog treats. 

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Teen Lauren Seachris visits with customers at the Panther Paw Craft Festival interested in the homemade dog treats and toys she sells to fund her charity work in Nicaragua. - photo by Veronica Coons

Two years ago, she started the business to raise money to build five homes for the extreme poor of Nicaragua. Each home, she said, costs $5,200 to build. As of Saturday, she was $2,000 short of funding a seventh home ( read more about Lauren, her business and her mission at

Her mom, Amy Seachris, has been helping Lauren with social media marketing, and they recently began working with a marketing pro to build a website. They attend sales most weekends, Lauren said. 

“Christmas time is definitely the busiest time of the year for us,” she said. 

Throughout the day, FBLA members made runs to the concession stand for vendors unable to leave their booths. At the end of the sale, the students helped vendors load up their goods, and helped return the PAC to its pre-sale condition.