Where else do you hear the word “rommegrot” mentioned several times in perfect context other than the Fellowship Hall at Trinity during the planning of the Scandinavian Bazaar? Witnessing the Bazaar committee during one of their final planning meetings was like observing an intricate machine at work. No wonder Trinity’s former Pastor Kathy Graves always said the process was “like a well-oiled machine!” The minutiae that may be taken for granted were discussed in great detail, and meeting planners could learn a thing or two from this bunch of amazing women.
Without divulging too many secrets, here were some of the topics that were discussed (and solved): eggs and the perfect way to prepare them for the tastiest/most beautiful Scandinavian sandwiches, logistics of crowd control, table and coffee mug counts, signage for the Scandinavian boutique, storage for the traditional red vests that helpers wear on the day, and so much more…
Most of this committee has been helping with the Bazaar for years, and those who are newer have learned from women who have come before them. Committees are broken down into specialty areas with leaders assigned to each. Each leader is then responsible for finding help in that area. Mary Baker is in charge of Scandinavian sandwiches and she said, “I have 25 people on my committee. It’s a community thing!”
Here’s the breakdown of background areas with their respective leaders:
Scandinavian, Candy & Bake Shop: Karen Bolding and Candy Marshall
Book Nook/Jigsaw Puzzles: LaVonne Welch
Calling for Pies: Nancy Rockman
Coffee Shop: Kathy Pitcher, Kay Larson
Decorations: Heather Hermanson and Carol Dettmer
Dining Room: Becky Dettmer and Ellie Koester
Gift Gallery: Kris Latham and Patty Flatness
Kitchen/Takeout: Mary Charlson
Lefse: Nancy Nelson and Ronda Smith
Lefse Sales: Karen and Ron Knudtson
Logistics and Tickets: Sharon and Gary Lindgren
Nametags: Nancy Rockman and Sarah Swegle
Pie Cutting: Elaine Braun
Rommegrot & Sweet Soup: Becky Dettmer, Jane Billings, and LaVonne Welch
Sandwiches: Mary Baker
Scandinavian Boutique: Cynthia Zach and Ronda Smith
Tickets: Mary Charlson
Treasurer: Paula Zimmerman, Robin Bratvold, and Lisa Lorenzen
Cashiers: JoAnn Mason and Lori Stadheim
Publicity/Hospitality: Sharon Lindgren
What are their favorite parts of the Bazaar? Mary Charlson loves the Scandinavian sandwiches. Becky Dettmer enjoys seeing the community members coming to this annual event. Kathy Pitcher gets a kick out of people asking her when the Bazaar is and “Will they still have lefse at 9 AM?!?” Ellie Koester appreciates seeing Trinity transform into a magical place. Susan Schlitter loves the fellowship and camaraderie, the “people working together to make it happen!” And LaVonne Welch agreed, saying her favorite part is working together for six weeks.
All of the women who help with the lefse mentioned another favorite: the moment of the “banging of the bell” that signifies the last bowl of lefse has been made for the year. The goal is 2100 pieces, and the highest number made in one day is 372, that record being set only a couple of Mondays ago.
Why do these women volunteer to help? Ellie Koester laughed, “Maybe we don’t want to ask that!” The work in preparing for the Bazaar is quite an undertaking, but to this group, it’s more a labor of love and carrying on a tradition started decades ago by Trinity members who are now gone.
Mary Charlson said, “It’s a great opportunity for Trinity to give back to the community. There’s a LOT of work in the two to three months before the Bazaar, but where else can you bring in around $14,000 in eight hours?”
She continued, “It’s always been more about the fellowship than the money, though.” Charlson explained that congregation members donate and use Thrivent cards and make crafts to sell at the Bazaar, and all of this helps immensely. “To think that you can sell things so inexpensively and everybody can come to the Bazaar and enjoy it and have fun…it’s just a miracle!” Kay Larson exclaimed. Karen Squire added, “It’s such a warm welcoming feeling when you walk in! I’m amazed at how many people outside of Trinity come. It’s the #1 Bazaar to make sure to attend!”
Susan Schlitter made sure to sing the praises of the men who help them make the Bazaar a success. “We really have to thank the men involved peeling potatoes on Mondays [while making lefse] and helping on the day of the Bazaar.” Mary Charlson added, “We couldn’t do it without the men!” She then shared a story about how one woman from quite a few years ago told her that the Trinity women used to have to do the whole Bazaar without any men helping. Charlson’s reply to her: “Well…you didn’t ASK!”
When the Bazaar is over and the last customers have left the church, the door is closed and all of the volunteers (men and women alike) stand in a circle in the Fellowship Hall, hold hands and sing the Doxology. Susan Schlitter said, “It’s such a heartwarming end to the Bazaar!” Additional help is always needed and much appreciated. Anyone interested in helping with this fun event should call Lou Ann at the Trinity office. “We’ll find a place for them!” several women laughed.
Make sure to attend the Scandinavian Bazaar this year on Thursday, November 3 from 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM. Trinity members may come to a “preview night” on Wednesday, Nov. 2 from 4:30 – 6:30 PM with the takeout meal offered from 4:30-6:00 PM. (Advance tickets are required for the takeout meal.) If you wish to attend one of the seatings of the meatball dinner on Bazaar day, be sure to get your tickets soon!
Co-Chairs of the Bazaar: Nancy Nelson and Julie Sanchez
Not only did Nancy Nelson and Julie Sanchez grow up at Trinity and attend Sunday School together, but flash forward a “few” years and they are now working together as Co-Chairs of the Bazaar. This is their first year heading up the Bazaar after shadowing Susan Schlitter and Jana Severtson last year. Nelson has volunteered for the Bazaar since 2012 and Sanchez since 2015, so their combined experience comes in handy. Sanchez explained that their job includes “making sure all groups have what they need,” as most of the groups have been together for so long and come back from year to year to volunteer. Nelson says, “It’s a good feeling” to serve Trinity in this way. Part of her responsibilities on Bazaar Day include being in charge of the kitchen with Mary Charlson. “It’s fun! It’s our contribution, and it’s a fun job being back together again!” Sanchez said her #1 thing about serving Trinity this way is being with people. “I have met a lot of people I knew back in the day. You get a chance to mingle with people you don’t normally do things with,” she explained.
When asked about the toughest part of their new role as Co-Chairs, Sanchez mentioned that they don’t have one assigned “spot” to be on the preview night and regular Bazaar day. “We float around…and fill in where needed!” she said. Nelson jokingly interjected, “You do…I’m in the kitchen!” Sanchez added, “There’s not really a hard part. These ladies know what to do!”
Trinity is lucky to have both women heading up the Bazaar, as well as many other areas. Nelson is also on the Adult Ministries Board at Trinity where she helps with the Trinity Trippers, Fellowship Coffee, WNA, lefse making, and kitchen duties. “I’ll be at Trinity every day except one this week!” she exclaimed. She also volunteers for Main Street Mason City where she designs the mayor’s Christmas tree and helps with Home for the Holidays
(as well as RAGBRAI this past summer). Regarding volunteering, Nelson said, “It makes you feel good. It’s fellowship and contribution!”
Sanchez is on the Altar Guild, the Columbarium Task Force, and the Women’s Ministries cabinet, besides being in River City Kiwanis. She also works part-time in the office at the Landfill. She volunteers because she “likes being helpful and keeping busy!” Both women are doing a great job with their leadership but take it all in stride. “The ladies who came before us helped make our job easier,” Sanchez said. She and Nelson are very important “cogs” in this “well-oiled machine,” and Trinity is blessed to have them. †