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Dassel-Cokato Craft Fair is ‘all about the kids’
NOV. 1, 2010

Nearly 80 vendors will set up at the DC High School/ Middle School Saturday

By Kristen Miller
News Editor

COKATO, DASSEL, MN – Seventy-seven vendors will be setting up shop at the Dassel-Cokato High School and Middle School for the 38th annual Dassel-Cokato Craft Fair Saturday, Nov. 6 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Admission is free, but all proceeds from the vendor booth fees benefit the Dassel-Cokato Early Childhood Advisory Council for preschool dollars for scholars and early childhood family education. This is the council’s main fundraiser for the year, and helps families with preschool scholarships.

Vendors will be set up throughout the campus including the middle and high school commons, the middle school gym, and the high school’s west gym.

Sale items are handmade only, which is unique to this fair, said Kristi Hiivala, co-coordinator of the craft fair and co-chair of the Early Childhood Advisory Council.

Hiivala has been coordinating the craft fair for four years now, with the help of Tina Stifter for the past two years; and Jamie Eggert, who is in her sixth year coordinating the fair.

“I love the craft fair,” Eggert said, who is also a past advisory council member. “It’s kind of fun to do something besides [being a mom].”

Vendors from the quad-county area, including Wright, Meeker, Stearns, and McLeod, will offer a wide variety of homemade crafts such as jewelry, wood crafts, clothing, quilts, and holiday and seasonal items.

The fair is always the first weekend in November, which is also the first weekend of deer hunting.

“We get the ‘hunting widows,’” Hiivala said.

“It also kicks off the holiday season,” Stifter said, who is also co-chair of the Early Childhood Advisory Council.

Attendees are also encouraged to sign up for door prizes, with drawings taking place every 15 minutes. Persons must be present to win, and prizes are compliments of the vendors.

Food items will also be available for purchase, courtesy of Donna Hughes on behalf of the advisory council, including cinnamon rolls in the morning and pizza and subs at lunchtime. Proceeds from these items will also benefit preschool scholarships. Tacos in a bag will be sold by DC boosters.

“The advisory council, every year, works extremely hard on this for months,” said Jane Ryan, early childhood programs coordinator.

Not only is there a lot that goes on behind the scenes, but the council members also volunteer for the event all day, according to Ryan.

“I think their biggest motivation is they know they are helping to provide funding for families and children to attend preschool or ECFE classes,” Ryan said.

“I’m all about the kids. That’s my driving force,” Stifter said.

Last year, the craft fair brought in $1,700, and the year before that, $1,900. This could mean a full year’s scholarship for some families.

For a child to attend preschool one day a week, yearly tuition is $500; two days a year is almost $800, according to Ryan.

“[With] the economy, especially now, we have more families who are in need of financial support,” Ryan said, adding that money is also available to families in need of financial support from Wright County Family Services Collaborative.

What does the Early Childhood Advisory Council do?

Ryan calls the Early Childhood Advisory Council the voice behind young families in Dassel-Cokato.

The Early Childhood Advisory Council is required by state law to appoint members consisting mainly of parents participating in the Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program. The council assists the board in developing, planning, and monitoring the ECFE program and reports to the school board and community education advisory council, according to MN Statute 121.882.

There are 15 members currently serving on the council, including co-chairs Stifter and Hiivala. Serving on the council is either a one- or two-year commitment.

As a mother of two, Stifter enjoys being on the council, saying “I think it’s a great out for moms . . . and getting to know other parents and discussing current issues [regarding] children of the same age.”

For more information about the ECFE program, visit www.dc.k12.mn.us/ecfe or contact Ryan at (320) 286-4120. Also “Like” them on Facebook to get up-to-date information on events and school closings.

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