11-10-10-yulemart081.gifIt seems today that there is a gadget to do virtually everything for you, that all presents come with bells, whistles or … a touch screen, and homemade and handcrafted gifts are a thing of the past. In light of this, the 2010 Yule Mart seems like a piece of much needed nostalgia to a time when everything wasn’t manufactured and mass produced. Yule Mart is a showcase of local, regional, and out-of-state crafters and artists and their creations, sponsored by the Fort Bragg Officers Spouses Club. More than 70 booths will be featured, offering a wide variety of items, such as quilts, holiday decorations, jewelry, paintings, furniture, Americana crafts, and much more. They will be selling their handmade crafts and products this November 19, 20 and 21 in the Ritz Epps Gym, Fort Bragg.

“We have lots of new vendors this year, as well as some old favorites” said Yule Mart chairperson Tracy Curran. “My Sister and I is a new vendor this year. The Promise is back and they are always a big hit. The Buy n Bragg will be there again, which is our (Fort Bragg Area Spouses Club) boutique here on post — they sell Fort Bragg related items.”

Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be taking a break from their busy schedules and stopping by, with Mrs. Claus’s Bake Shop and Santa’s Workshop both in the Ritz Epps Physical Fitness Center. Donate or buy tasty treats or bring the kiddies to shop for low priced gifts for their family and friends.

“There is a new feature this year at Santa’s Secret Workshop,” said Curran. “This year we have an EFMP (Exceptional Family Member Program) shopping experience, and we are very excited about that. That will be on Sunday Nov. 21 from 10-11 a.m. We are very excited about that. It will be a little less chaotic than our other shopping times.”

Mrs. Claus’s Bake Shop will be fi lled with cookies, brownies, muffi ns and breads, as well as fresh fruit and sugar free items for sale.

Of course all of the proceeds go right back into the community on and around Fort Bragg.

“We had about 3,000 shoppers last year and this year we are shooting for at least 4,000,” said Curran. “All of this goes back to our community through welfare grants to community organizations that support the military as well as on scholarships and continuing education scholarships for spouses of military members. Last year a lot of local schools both on and off post benefi tted from general welfare fund grants including the Fort Bragg animal shelter, the Armed Services YMCA, Operation Homefront N.C. and the Fisher House.”

One of my earliest memories of Christmas is sitting with my uncles, aunts and cousins at the dining room table covered with beads, string and pipe cleaners making our own ornaments. Eventually they got so popular that we began to sell them to friends and family members, as well as in our church. We enjoyed the money, but nothing could ever put a price on the bond that we created together and the delight in making something with our own hands that gave such joy to others. This year I urge everyone to step away from the gadgets and electronics, and give something made with care, and support our neighboring artists and talent.

“The mall and other retailers are standard — everybody can fi nd what you fi nd at the mall, but these are all unique hand crafted items,” said Curran. “I think the uniqueness would be the reason to come and shop at Yule Mart. The stuff you will fi nd at Yule Mart you are not going to fi nd at the mall or any other retail outlet.”

PICTURED: Shoppers enjoy regional crafters and artisans at Yule Mart.

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