Mark your calendars, because the Owatonna Hospital Auxiliary Bazaar is back.

After being unable to host the popular shopping event in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, the ladies of the auxiliary made some adjustments and are able to host the bazaar this year, but at a new locations. For the first time, the bazaar will be held at St. John Lutheran Church in Owatonna.

“We are excited for the location change,” said Kathy Ihlenfeld, auxiliary co-chair. “There’s plenty of parking and easy access for people to come out if they have a walker or a wheelchair.”

The two-day event will begin Friday, Nov 5. and conclude Saturday, Nov. 6. This year marks the 58th year the Bazaar has been running. The organizers, who have mostly been involved for the last 20 plus years said it’s not too early to think about attending.

The bazaar is certainly a community favorite, generally drawing upwards of 1,000 attendees in recent years.

“We know we won’t see the same number of people this year,” said Judy Karaus, the other auxiliary co-chair. “But we still want to get the word out to people to support the cause.”

All profits from the bazaar stay at the Owatonna Hospital. For the last several years, the auxiliary has been donating Halo baby swaddles for each baby that is born. The hospital estimates about 500 babies are born there each year.

The auxiliary also puts money toward scholarships for medical students and other special unfunded projects in the hospital.

To keep everyone safe, the bazaar will not be doing their popular passport program this year. Instead, each vendor booth will contribute a $25 gift card as for a door prize drawing. Entrants do not need to be present to pick up their goodies.

Lunch will also not be served this year, but coffee, treats and water will be provided with a free-will donation instead.

New and Nearly New, Sewing, Bake, Collective Goods, Santa’s Stocking Stuffers, and Sheets Galore will all be returning to the event this year. The hospital gift shop will also be open at the hospital and will have an outlet sale at the bazaar.

“We have toys, games, knick-knacks, STEM toys and books available at Collective Goods,“ said Sheryl Ignaszewski, co-chair of the event. “From infants to adults — there’s something for everyone.”

Shirley Nelson, auxiliary member who is in charge of the New and Nearly New booth, said that everything you can find at the booth is donated by the community and everything is barely used or brand new.

“People like to repurpose things and recycle them,” Nelson said. “We have clothes and toys and decor that are used, but look brand new, and everything comes at a great price.”

The ladies of the auxiliary are incredibly passionate about making the event a success. They agreed that many in the community enjoy supporting small business and appreciate the homemade and handcrafted items that can be found at the bazaar.

“Many people love the hand-embroidered dishtowels and pot holders — they’re our number one selling items,” Ihlenfeld said. “One towel takes about five hours to make, and we sold more than 200 at the [Steele County Free Fair].”

All together, over 200 volunteers collaborate to make the event a success. From the bakers to the sewers to those that help set up and tear down the bazaar, the process for the event is ongoing all year around.

“The ladies are sewing and crafting all year,” Ihlenfeld said. “Not just for the bazaar, but for the fair as well.”

The annual Owatonna Hospital Auxiliary Holiday Bazaar will take place on Friday, Nov. 5, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 6 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the St. John Lutheran Church in Owatonna.

Reach reporter Emily Kahnke at 507-444-2376. ©Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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