Holmstad residents hoping for good turnout at annual bazaar

The big bazaar at The Holmstad in Batavia is this weekend. Are you going? Or are you skipping it this year out of fear?

There have been 12 confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease at Covenant Living at the Holmstad in Batavia and two confirmed cases outside the facility according to the Kane County Health Department. Some of the comments on social media have been mean-spirited and often not true. Many of the residents at the Holmstad have stepped up to defend the retirement center, the administration and those who are doing everything possible to try and find the source of the Legionnaires' disease, whether in the facility or elsewhere.

In the hopes that this weekend's bazaar is well-attended, the residents' marketing team has put signs up all over Batavia. The bazaar, which benefits a number of local charities, as well as Holmstad charities, is the biggest fundraiser that the residents do. They work year-round making things and getting ready.

All 14 shops of the Holmstad Bazaar will be open for business from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28. Lunch is available for purchase at 11:30 a.m. The Holmstad is at 700 W. Fabyan Parkway.

A few years ago, I did a story on the bazaar and interviewed Wilma Van Arragon, who has her own boutique of knitted items. She told me that she starts knitting for the next year's bazaar the day after the bazaar is over. Her boutique is one of the 14 shops open for business.

All of the public spaces in the Town Center (just off Batavia Avenue) are filled with great gifts. You'll find baked goods, wood and needle-crafts, seasonal wreaths, designer knits, plants, quilts, along with secondhand treasures such as jewelry, furniture, books and household items. There will also be a quilt raffle and free drawing for cash prizes.

The greatest attraction is the array of beautiful one-of-a-kind items.

"Ellen Askren is a skilled artisan who has been making wreaths professionally for 15 years, with her work featured in a gift shop in Geneva," said marketing team member Patti Franklin. "When she came to the Holmstad she offered to share her talent and make seasonal wreaths for the bazaar."

Speaking of artisans, Franklin's husband, Jack, is a skilled woodworker and has one-of-a-kind ornaments for sale that feature sea urchin shells on top of a hand- turned finial.

"I saw a similar ornament that an artist in Maine had created, " he said. "I decided that I could create ornaments as well."

Before he came to the Holmstad, he had never done any woodworking. He got involved with the Holmstad Woodworkers group and learned how to turn wood from Dick MacFeely of the Batavia Wood Carvers Club.

Everyone at the Holmstad is excited about the bazaar but concerned about the attendance.

"I feel very safe here," said Patti Franklin. "The administration and staff have been very proactive and are keeping us well-informed about the progress in the investigation."

Amanda Gosnell, executive director of Covenant Living at the Holmstad, said that they are doing everything they can to make the retirement center safe for residents and guests.

"We have made sure that all areas within the Holmstad are safe and we look forward to a successful bazaar."

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