Mennonites craft for world relief

Every year, Mennonite congregations gather at certain places in U.S. to put on a huge Relief Sale to help raise money for their compassionate efforts around the world. I am fortunate enough to have one that takes place at the fairgrounds in nearby Rocky Ford, Colorado.

The Rocky Mountain Mennonite Relief Sale takes place on the third weekend in October, right as the harvest is going full tilt. During the sale, the air is crisp, the afternoon is warm, the sky is blue and people are in a good mood. Every purchase, whether it’s fair trade coffee, kettle corn, apple butter made fresh right there, fresh-made-right-there-apple cider, homemade cheeses, meats, snacks, pie or other baked goods, craft items, crafting supplies, or fair trade items from around the world, all goes to the Mennonite Central Committee, which gives aid to people all over the world.

Oh yeah, did I mention they have a quilt auction?

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All of these quilts are handmade and beautiful. Other handcrafted items, including quilts are available at the sale for great prices:

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These tea towels are hand embroidered. I just had to get some for gifts.

Just like all church functions, food was abundant.

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We don’t have everything pictured, but they sell homemade pie, ice cream, healthy snacks, baked goods, cheeses and fresh meat. You can buy fresh apple butter boiled down at the sale. The aroma is wonderful. This year we bought a gallon jug of apple cider that they make every year and it was outstanding. That first sip tasted like I was taking a bite out of several kinds of apples all at once.

Every year, one family restores a vintage tractor and donates it to the auction.

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Fabric and other craft supplies are also available for sale.

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There are also fair trade items available. The items for sale here come from Crossroads Village in La Junta. Other places might have items associated with Ten Thousand Villages.

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Who knows? You might even run into a fellow fiber fanatic like I did.

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Karen runs Phoenix Fiber Mill and was at Salida and Taos. She introduced me to this sale years ago when we both worked at the local newspaper.

John Wesley once said, “There is no holiness without social holiness” and the Mennonites have taken this seriously. They use the gifts they have to do what they can. It’s great to have a small part.

Photos: Mike Steeves

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