Thorold’s Christmas Art & Craft Show a community affair

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The 25th annual Thorold’s Christmas Art & Craft Show continued the event’s tradition of raising funds for Thorold Secondary School by connecting vendors and community members.

The event ran from Nov. 17 until Nov. 18 and featured over 80 vendors from across Ontario and Quebec selling homemade ceramics, jewellery, soaps, food, pet supplies and more.

Local philanthropist Cathy Henderson organizes the event each year. She and her husband John are known in the community for their decades of community service, volunteerism and advocacy.

“Without [Henderson] and her organization [the show] wouldn’t be possible,” said Thorold Secondary School Principal Helena Tritchew.

All proceeds from the $3 admission fee went towards the school and its students. According to Tritchew, these funds support initiatives beyond the student budget, such as scholarships, lounge furniture in the library and mats in the gymnasium.

“This directly benefits the students in visible, tangible and experiential ways,” said Tritchew.

Student ambassadors for the school were positioned throughout to guide attendees through the six areas, answer questions and otherwise mingle with the community. One such ambassador, Grade 10 student Parker Rees, replaced other volunteers when needed, taking on various roles throughout the event.

“It’s a nice get-together for the community,” said Rees. “It’s a good way to fundraise.”

Another avenue of fundraising was the raffle put on by the parent council. Attendees could buy tickets for a gift basket raffle. The gift baskets contained items donated by local businesses, including board games, snacks, and other small gifts.

“We may just make a record this year,” said parent council President Jeanette Burton. “Everyone’s really positive; they love the baskets.”

Attendees explored every area as the program for the event requested. The first area was the Specialized School to Community (SSTC) room, with proceeds going to the program. SSTC supports students with specialized learning needs. These funds will go in part towards events and trips for students in the program, according to Tritchew. A notable trip recently was to Heartland Forest, which provides visitors with accessible nature experiences and education.

The fifth area, only available on Saturday, featured Gracie’s Mennonite Christmas Cookies. At times the line formed out the door and into the hallway with people awaiting the chance to buy cookies.

Pat Patterson of Fenwick Trunks & Barn Board sold her wares in the third area, normally a gymnasium.

Patterson and her husband sell homemade furniture and home décor made of wood, typically refurbished barn boards. They also refinish antique trunks and do custom work.

“It’s an enjoyable part-time business,” said Patterson, who still works full-time, along with her husband.

At the art and crafts show Patterson noted the homemade birdhouses were a hit in particular. Made of barn wood with roofs of old barn roof tile, each birdhouse features a teapot as the main body for birds to nest in with the lid attached to the backboard below.

“It’s very busy, very positive. There’s a very good crowd,” said Patterson.

Attendees could purchase food from several vendors, including food trucks in the parking lot for Shriner’s Creek Kettle Popcorn and Knots About Pretzels, as well as in the school’s cafeteria.

Several of the artisans present at this show will also be attending the Ancaster Craft Show at the Ancaster fairgrounds in Hamilton on the Nov. 24 weekend, including Patterson.

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