Residents packed the backyard of Pickles in Paradise, above, for the bazaar fundraiser.
With donkey rides, photographs with Santa Claus, live music, craft beer and more, the Coral Bay Community Council’s first Coral Bay Bizarre Bazaar at Pickles in Paradise on Saturday, December 7, drew hundreds of residents and families and raised more than $5,000 for the non-profit organization.
No one minded the muddy conditions and the rains held off for the first time in days as residents packed the backyard behind Pickles for the first annual CBCC community fundraiser.
“I think it went really well,” said CBCC Board of Directors member Sarah Groves, who helped to organize the event. “Everyone I spoke to had a very positive response and everyone — vendors, musicians, our kid’s tent organizer — said they’d do it again next year.”
CBCC officials were still tallying the total raised at the bazaar as of press time, but were already happy with the results, Groves explained.
“It was definitely a successful fundraiser,” she said. “We exceeded our expectation, which was about $5,000. We left it up to the artists and vendors if they wanted to give a portion of what they made to CBCC and a lot of them donated at the end of the day, which is really good because it means they did well.”
Attendees had the chance to shop from more than 60 artists and vendors who sold their wares at the bazaar. Everything from hand-wrought jewelry, original oil paintings and exquisite pottery to local hot sauces and spice rubs could be found at the event.
Children enjoyed games and activities with Gifft Hill School teacher Trish Stalter at the kid’s tent as well as donkey rides with Carolina Corral owner Dana Bartlett. Santa Claus even stopped by to pose for a few photos and get last minute Christmas list items.
A highlight for the older attendees was the craft beer competition which drew some talented home brewers from Love City, St. Thomas and St. Croix as well as St. John Brewers; who didn’t compete in the competition but did share samples of their new Double IPA.
Event goers had the chance to buy a ticket to sample beer from each of the competitors and vote for their favorite. In the end, the St. Croix submission Captain Awesome finished just one vote behind the winning IPA from St. Thomas. Jason Hayman and Jeff McCrave of St. John represented Love City well in the competition.
“The beer competition was definitely very popular,” said Groves. “The whole food and beverage area seemed to be super busy throughout day.”
Although food and beverage sales were strong during the bazaar, CBCC still has several Mixology Cards left to sell, Groves added.
“The cards are a really good deal,” she said. “For $20 you get a signature cocktail at seven different Coral Bay restaurants.”
Stop by the CBCC office to buy a card for $20, which entitles one to a signature drink at Skinny Legs, Shipwreck Landing, Aqua Bistro, Miss Lucy’s, Tourist Trap, Concordia Cafe and Island Blues.
With such a huge turnout for this year’s bazaar, CBCC officials are certainly planning to host the event again next year.
“I would have to say that we’re definitely going to do it again,” said Groves. “We haven’t had our debriefing meeting yet, but we did try to get a lot of feedback from people. I’m sure there are things we’ll look at doing better or differently.”
For the CBCC volunteers and organizers who hosted the event, seeing the crowded yard made up for months of hard work, Groves explained.
“We’ve been working on this since August,” she said. “It felt great to have it not be a disaster and not be pouring rain.”
The day would not have been such a great success without the help of numerous volunteers and Pickles in Paradise owner Bev Melius, Grove added.