NEW DIXIE — The annual St. Boniface Catholic Church Bazaar in New Dixie has been a tradition as long as Lee Nutt, 83, can remember.
“I like the camaraderie, visiting with people. Some, it’s been years since I’ve seen them,” Nutt (pronounced Newt) said.
This year’s festivities will begin at 11 a.m. May 19 after a 10 a.m. Mass at the church on Arkansas 60 in Perry County, 5 miles west of the Toad Suck bridge.
Diane Gottsponer, bazaar chairwoman, said the event includes several old-fashioned carnival-style booths, such as the popular ham-and-bacon stand; ice cream; games; and a bounce house for children, as well as bingo.
“There are people who come out and just want to play bingo. They will sit outside under the pavilion all day,” Gottsponer said.
Nutt said his favorite memory is playing bingo through the years.
“From when I was real young, like 5 or 6 years old, we always looked forward to it,” he said. “It was the anticipation of winning something. It’s kind of like Christmas toys — you wonder what Santa Claus is going to bring.”
“We’ve added a country store,” Gottsponer said. Participants can spin a wheel for a paper bag full of prizes, “anything from kitchen soap to a grill set, things of that nature.”
Chris Shelton will provide live music all day — “rock, country, he’s awesome,” she said.
The bazaar will culminate at 3 p.m. with a raffle drawing for cash prizes.
Nutt is in charge of the silent auction, which always brings an eclectic mix of items.
“Almost anything they want, we’ve got it,” Nutt said. Items include antique coins, a recliner and gift certificates for dinners, oil changes, car washes, a Petit Jean ham and more.
He said the community is “really generous” for the event, which is the only fundraiser that St. Boniface Parish has each year.
The highlight of the day is the all-you-can-eat meal, which starts at 11 in the St. Boniface Church Hall. It includes barbecue beef and chicken, homemade rolls, green beans or baked beans, and desserts. The cost is $12 for adults and $6 for ages 6 to 12. Children 5 and younger may eat free. Takeout meals are available for $12 by calling (501) 759-2896.
“If they go away hungry, it’s their fault,” Lee Nutt said of attendees.
Nutt and his brother, Max Nutt, 77, have been in charge of smoking the beef for the event for about 25 years. They’ve gotten some help in recent years — Max’s son, Fred Nutt, cooks the chicken.
Max makes the rolls every year, and it’s been said people come to the bazaar just for them.
The bazaar is special for the Nutts for another reason. Max said his and Lee’s grandfather, Joseph Nutt, who immigrated from Germany in the 1870s, helped build the church in 1906.
“We’ve got a lot of kinfolk who come back for that Sunday. We’re proud of it,” Max said.
The Parish was established in 1879, he said. The first church burned in 1906, but it was built back the same year.
Gottsponer said the church is a beautiful piece of architecture that is often photographed.
The bazaar will culminate with a raffle drawing for cash prizes — $1,500, $500, $250 or $100. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5 and can be purchased at the event.
Proceeds will go toward the upkeep of the church and expenses of the church and the parish, Max said.
For more information about the bazaar, call Gottsponer at (501) 391-2340.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.