German Community Center enjoys its last Christkindlmarkt
By Victoria G. Molinar, Special to the Fort Bliss Bugle:
It was the Sunday following the hectic Black Friday shopping craze and the weather was cloudy and gray, but that didn’t halt the success of the German Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market), also known as the German Advent Bazaar. Organized by Aid for the Needy and Helping Hands, nearly $4,000 was raised by the two charitable German Air Force organizations.
Although the bazaar, which was held at the German Community Center (aka Soldatenstube), was free to the public, money was raised through the sale of bratwurst, German beer, soft drinks and pastries. A line for the sweets formed outside the clubhouse before the event even started. Within about an hour, about 27 cakes were sold, reported event organizer and Aid for the Needy treasurer Franz Huber.
“The pastries are my favorite thing about the bazaar,” said Lorrie Gibson, one of the many vendors at the bazaar, who was selling homemade holiday and event cards. “The people stand in line a long time to get them and if you’re not in line with them, you’re out of luck.”
About 1,250 bratwursts were also sold. Other German food and drinks included goulash (a hearty beef stew), waffles, smoked fish and glühwein (mulled wine), which many “chased” with a shot of amaretto or Jägermeister.
More than 30 vendors filled and poured outside of the clubhouse, selling a wide array of homemade goods, such as jams, Christmas decorations, knitted scarves, hats and quilts.
“This is our sixth bazaar,” said Andrea Schugardt, who sold homemade bread and smoked salmon and trout during the event. “The Americans like the fish and we really appreciate the chance to show them some German culture.”
With the German Air Defense Center relocating from Fort Bliss, many attendees and vendors said they felt somewhat sad and hoped for more German events to be held until the imminent departure.
“It’s kind of sad they’re leaving,” said retired 1st Sgt. Gilbert Kelly. “They do a lot for the community and for (Cuidad) Juarez.”
Both the money raised by Aid for the Needy and Helping Hands is used throughout the year to help out communities in El Paso, San Elizario, Texas, Chaparral, N.M., and Chihuahua, Mexico.
“What I learned is that Germany is the most charitable nation in Europe,” said Sister Maureen Gallagher of Centro Santa Catalina in Ciudad Juarez. “Before the trouble increased in Juarez and the German government told them they couldn’t go over there, the children from the German School would come over and play soccer with the children in the homework help program.”
Gallagher held a “Women’s Cooperative of Hope and Faith” booth, which sold hand-sewn scarves and purses made by the wives of day laborers in Cuidad Juarez. The co-op is an economic project of Centro Santa Catalina, a faith-based organization that has received donations from both Aid for the Needy and Helping Hands.
This is the last year the German Advent Bazaar will be held at the Soldatenstube, which will have a shutdown (sold out) party Dec. 13.
“I’m very sorry that (the German Community Center) is closing because they have a really great restaurant here,” said Gibson. “My dad helped build this building and did all the air conditioning and heating.”
The German bazaars will continue, said Huber, who added that next year’s spring bazaar would be held at Bldg. 747 on Carter Road (the former Oktoberfest site).
Those who missed Sunday’s German Advent Bazaar will have a chance to go to a similar free event Saturday at Bldg. 747 on Carter Road from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.
To learn more, call 568-3128.
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