Santa Claus will again arrive on the Minneota Fire Department truck to the Bethel Fellowship Church in Minneota.

Hunting widows unite again for Extravaganza

For over 40 years, the hunting widows of Minneota have taken aim at having their own kind of adventure. The annual North Pole Extravaganza, which will be held from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. this Saturday, originated in the 1980s when a group of ladies sold baked goodies and crafts while their spouses were donning orange and looking to bag a deer.

Loralee Miller, Judy Hagen, Marilynn Pagel and Judy Traen started the day for hunting widows in 1977, taking turns hosting the event in their homes.

“It gave the women something to do,” laughed Miller. “A lot of the hunting widows were also the majority of the customers, too.” Gayle Van Vooren joined the group in 1987, selling her baked goods and continued the event.

That was also the final year the four original members were involved.

“We were all working women, so our crafting had to be done in the evenings and weekends,” Miller explained. “After that, Gayle continued with her baked foods.” Year by year, the event has grown in popularity.

“Others could see it was fun and a way to earn some extra cash, and it has evolved,” said Van Vooren.

“Over the years, I did a lot of baking and it was well received. The camaraderie was great and it helped with the cost of upcoming holidays.” The number of participants has also continued to grow over the years.

“Alison Ufkin then incorporated the businesses in on that weekend for a holiday sale,” said Barb Rye of the Arched Door, who co-coordinates North Pole Extravaganza along with Jan Faris.

This year’s North Pole Extravaganza will feature Santa Claus arriving by fire truck at 11 a.m. at Bethel Fellowship Church, which will also house several vendors, a silent auction and photo opportunities with Santa. Vendors currently booked for the event are: Avon, 3 Hearts Vintage, Young Living, Thirty One Gifts, Pink Zebra, Color Street, Val’s Creations, Scentsy, Norwex, Tupperware, Robin’s Crafts Corner, Tastefully Simple, LuLaRoe, Crochet Away Jane, First Floor Attic, Chloe & Isabel, Modern Woodmen, Mary Kay, Usborne Books & More, LipSense, It Works and Brenda’s Embroidery/Quilting/Sewing.

Baked foods will be sold at the following locations: St. Edward’s Bake Sale at Bethel Fellowship Church and Goodies by G & C (benefits Esther’s Kitchen) at the VFW.

Area businesses involved in North Pole Extravaganza will be open for holiday shopping, including J’s Dream, This and That Recreated, Hometown Kitchen and Bath, The Arched Door, B Lenore, One More Time Thrift Store, and City Hall Bar & Grill. Letters to Santa can be dropped off at the North Pole mailbox located at B Lenore’s shop.

“Letters will be provided as well at the shop to be colored, filled out and returned,” said Beth Buysse of B Lenore, which will be open from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

The Arched Door will also be open from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. “We are offering 20 percent off Christmas décor, clothing and home décor,” said Barb Rye.

“We will have featured purses for $19.99 and also offer 50 percent off all fall décor.”

The Arched Door will also be giving samples of Wind and Willow products.

Hometown Kitchen and Bath will be serving hot apple cider to its customers.

This and That Recreated will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. with select sale items. “I will also have flooring sales going on,” said Nadine Kor.

The silent auction held at Bethel Fellowship Church will benefit the Christmas Angels program again this year. The Christmas Angels program assists families purchase gifts for their children.

“Last year, we were able to sponsor 60 children,” said Amber Rodas, the director of the Christmas Angels program.

“We are looking for families who would like to participate as recipient of gifts.” In order to be eligible for the Christmas Angels program, families must have children attend the Minneota Public or St. Edward’s schools, and are also enrolled in the Free/Reduced Lunch Program.

“We are also looking for families who would like to be a Christmas Angel sponsor who will purchase the gifts for the recipients,” said Rodas, the K-12 School Social Worker in Minneota.

Registration for the program closes Nov. 14 in order to allow sponsors to shop during the Black Friday sales.

For more information or to sign up, contact Rodas at 507-872-6122 ext. 1131.

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