A mix of Thanksgiving and Christmas events helped get everyone in the holiday spirit Saturday.
At Hermiston Public Library on Saturday morning, children sat at tables with small “Christmas bell” tree ornaments made from plastic cups, studiously sticking Santa, snowman and penguin stickers to their crafts.
Guadalupe Thomas said she brings her children Aviana Thomas, 6, Ana Ramirez, 10, and Jerasiah Thomas, 3, to the library “a lot” to participate in crafts, reading activities or just to browse the books.
“It’s really nice the library puts on so many fun things for kids,” she said.
The children said they were excited for Christmas and they were having a good time making ornaments.
“It’s fun and then we get to keep them and put them on our tree,” Ana said.
Dena Hill said she brought her daughters Genelle and Jacenda to make ornaments because they loved to do crafts. She has been trying to bring them to the library more often lately.
“It’s family friendly,” she said.
Some places may have been jumping straight into Christmas events, but at Echo Community Methodist Church at noon it was all about Thanksgiving.
Young families, elderly couples and single people all mingled in the basement of the church for Echo’s annual community Thanksgiving meal.
Women and children were allowed to go first after a volunteer said an opening prayer, but Daniel “Buster” McClinton, who has lived in Echo for 13 years, was in line shortly behind them with a cookie sheet, ready to use it as a make-shift tray to deliver plates of turkey and stuffing to those who were in a wheelchair and would have difficultly navigating the line.
McClinton said as “the only black person in Echo” he felt he should get to know everyone in the community, so he volunteers around town and helps elderly residents with things like getting wood for their wood stoves. He said he enjoys the community meal each year.
“Even people who don’t go to this church seem to show up,” he said. “This is the gathering.”
Patsy Gehrke, who was keeping an eye on the pie table to make sure the children running around didn’t sneak too many slices, said they expected about 70 people on Saturday. She attends the “close-knit” Echo Community Church and said she likes helping out with their events.
John Marcum, the church’s pastor, said as Echo’s only active church, they try to serve the community as much as possible. It helps that the mayor and several city councilors are congregants and were serving up food in the hot line Saturday.
“We’re trying to do good things,” he said.
Linda Nelson enjoyed the meal, particularly the sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes with turkey gravy.
“They always have such good Thanksgiving dinners,” she said.
Over in Pendleton, Umatilla County’s biggest holiday bazaar of the year was in full swing in the afternoon.
The Altrusa Holiday Bazaar at the Pendleton Convention Center drew more than 100 vendors and hundreds of shoppers looking to get an early start on their Christmas shopping or just buy something fun for themselves. On offer was clothing, home decor, soaps, jams, baked goods and jewelry.
Chris Ramsey of Custom Carved Signs in Hermiston had a booth for the first time after starting a business this year honoring his roots as a third-generation wood craftsman.
“I’m glad I came,” he said. “I had no idea it was this big or I would have come years before, not as a carver but as a customer.”
He said it was a fun “ego boost” to see how many people were stopping by to watch him carve his signs and ask questions about the process.
Pam Campbell of PJ’s Funny Farm outside Adams was selling products that were all raised on her ranch, from alpaca fleece to goat’s milk soaps and lotions.
“This is my fourth or fifth year,” she said. “It’s fun. If I break even, that’s great, if I sell a lot, that’s icing on the cake. With all these critters I’ve got to do something with all these products.”
Jill Pursel had paused her shopping for a piece of berry pie, and said attending Altrusa’s holiday bazaar has been a tradition for years. She had her eye on a few things she planned to purchase, but she said since she moved from Pendleton to Hermiston the event has also become an excuse to reconnect with people she doesn’t see regularly anymore.
“I really like coming here and seeing all the people,” she said.
Contact Jade McDowell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4536.