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Holiday Extravaganza is Thursday at Dayton House

WORTHINGTON — Leaving empty-handed should be hard to do for shoppers attending the annual Holiday Extravaganza, scheduled to take place Thursday from 3-8 p.m. at the Historic Dayton House.

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A wide assortment of unique crafts, gifts, décor and accessories awaits all who stroll through the doors of the restored 1890 home, which will benefit from the event’s ticket proceeds.

“I’m so tickled about the 20 vendors we have coming,” bubbled event co-chair Marlene Jueneman. “We have some new, exciting ones as well as several returning favorites.

“And this is one of only two major fundraisers that the Dayton House’s Tour and Events Committee runs each year, so we hope a lot of people will make the time to come out to see all we have to offer.”

Jueneman, whose co-chair is Kathy Gallagher, says their committee has worked hard to organize an event that is sure to please both casual browsers as well as serious shoppers.

“There’s a wine and cheese bar, too, and people have really enjoyed taking advantage of that in past years,” said Jueneman.

Among the first-time Holiday Extravaganza vendors are local woodcarver Louis Stowe, whose workshop is just a stone’s throw from the Historic Dayton House, and Holiday Pots purveyors Nicole Bretzman, Windom, and her mother, Sandy Rademacher, Lakefield.

Stowe, 66, retired last spring after 32 years as office manager for what is now Marthaler Motors. Hence, he has even more time to spend on his two favorite pastimes—fishing and woodcarving.

“I make carved Santa Claus figures, more of the Old World Santa types, and I also make carved ice fishing decoys,” explained Stowe, who has honed his carving skills for over 30 years.

“The ice fishing decoys are mainly used as décor for man caves, cabins or family rooms, but they are weighted so they could be used for actual ice fishing,” Stowe said.

A devoted fisherman who says he rarely goes a day without dropping a line into Lake Okabena, Stowe spends up to 50 hours each week at his carving.

“It depends on how late I stay up—sometimes I work on them until 1 or 2 in the morning,” he admitted.

Stowe also paints the eight- to 10-inch Santa figures himself, each of which takes more than 20 hours to perfect, he estimates.

“I use some different colors—greens, blues, golds,” he noted.

Stowe has demonstrated his craft at Pioneer Village Christmas celebrations over the past 15 years, but “otherwise, I sell my items through word of mouth or to repeat customers,” he said.

“Some people get a different Santa every year, and one guy has about 20.”

Stowe uses northern basswood from either Minnesota or Wisconsin for his carvings.

“It’s kiln-dried wood,” he shared.

Bretzman similarly uses natural materials for the Holiday Pots she and her mother “have a blast” putting together during the autumn months.

“We are both florists by trade, and we have so much fun doing these,” enthused Bretzman.

“We go on nature hikes, gather items from ditches—we just have fun.”

The pots Bretzman and Rademacher prepare are intended for outdoor display and are comprised of evergreens, cedar, twigs and birch arranged in a stand, with decorative accents including small trees, berries, solar lights, signs, pinecones, greenery, peacock feathers, ornaments, lanterns and more.

“We use all kinds of different things to make them look interesting and decorative,” said Bretzman, adding that this is the third season the duo has done the pots.

“The nice thing about these is they’ll last until spring—in fact, mine still looked so good this spring, I didn’t want to take it apart, but the flowers were blooming so I finally did.”

Bretzman and Rademacher are service-oriented and can create displays in pots (either portable or permanent) people may already own, or they can take orders and deliver them to homes and businesses in the area (including Worthington). They also will have many pots finished and available for immediate purchase on Thursday.

“They’ll last all winter long, and you don’t have to do anything to them,” attested Bretzman. “Already this year, we have 40 orders from repeat customers, but this will be our first time at the Dayton House.”

Another Dayton House Tours and Events Committee member, Kari Meyer, is fired up about the vendor variety on display at this year’s Holiday Extravaganza.

“Decadent Décor and Rebecca Scott Purse Designs will be there, too,” Meyer said. “The Holiday Extravaganza is a wonderful place to look for some new gift ideas for the upcoming holidays—or maybe a little something special for yourself.”

Jueneman added that attendees who purchase advance tickets will be entered in a drawing for a $25 cash prize, and each vendor will offer a door prize as well.

“We’re hoping people will come out to support the Dayton House,” urged Jueneman. “We know people are busy, but we’re starting early—at 3 p.m.—so you can make time for a stop before getting to other evening commitments.”

The Holiday Extravaganza at the Historic Dayton House, 1311 Fourth Ave., Worthington, is from 3-8 p.m. Thursday. Advance tickets may be purchased at the Worthington Hy-Vee store or at Lakeshore Clips. Tickets are also available at the door. Ticket proceeds benefit the Historic Dayton House. Call 507-727-1311 with questions.