Quilt raffle should really 'light up' St. Ann's bazaar

St. Ann’s Catholic Church is once again prepping for one of its most anticipated events of the year: the annual summer bazaar.

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For nearly three decades, the event has coaxed browsers, both church members and visitors, to its Bethany Beach location with plenty of finds, prizes and entertainment. Auctions, raffles and sales ensure plenty of fun for everyone, no matter what their taste.

For the past five bazaars, the headlining raffle has featured a quilt, assembled by a dedicated collection of women and, this year, the “Guiding Lights” quilt, highlighting 34 lighthouses of the East Coast, is already a probable favorite item for next weekend’s big event.

“The colors in the quilt this year really bring it to life,” said Felicia Seelig, a member of the congregation and of the Ladies of the St. Ann’s Parish, the church’s sewing group, which meets several times a month. She, along the collection of others, helped put the quilt together.

Panels of lighthouse from across the country’s eastern shore, set against a blue nautical background, emphasize the theme of this year’s queen-sized quilt. Lighthouses from New England harbors, stretching through the Delaware coast and Chesapeake Bay, down to North Carolina’s Outer Banks and south into Florida decorate the quilt with intricate detail.

Local structures, such as the Fenwick Island, Cape Henlopen and Cape May lighthouses, help bring a personal aspect to the work, while Bethany Beach’s totem-pole-style Chief Little Owl sculpture and an image of the World War II lookout towers of Dewey Beach and Fenwick Island give a local feel, as well.

“A lot of the locations really bring it home,” said Elsie Cadden, another member of the Lady’s Parish and needlework contributor.

“We’ve already had a number of men trying for it, as well,” added member Fil Ryan of the quilt’s widespread appeal. “People are taking a lot of chances on it. The quilt has a lot of local flavor in it.”

Hours have been spent hand-embroidering each panel with precision and delicacy. A number of the quilters took on several panels, contributing strongly to the finished product.

“When we took it to the quilt guild,” Ryan added, “the quilters there were surprised and impressed that every panel was hand-embroidered.”

The quilt raffle is just the start of the three-day event. Bazaar-goers can take their chances in a silent auction and purchase other items, including deer decoys, a singing Elvis, canoe and stained-glass tools. There is also a collection of paintings and hand-painted furniture from which to choose.

Those who have stopped by in the past appreciate the popularity of the bazaar, as hundreds turn out over the weekend.

“Thursday night is our premier night,” said bazaar coordinator Pat Duchesne. “For $5 more, bazaar-goers will get an early go-around through the items for sale. It helps with Friday morning, because they used to be lined around the block and took hours just to get people in the building. When they’re here, they’re here.”

Bazaar fans have been known to schedule their summer plans around the church’s annual festivity.

“We tie up traffic to Millville,” said Cadden, “but it’s nice to have that support from the community and the fellowship.”

Items will be spread between both buildings of the church, including the Masterson Center. Proceeds will go to help with repairs to St. Ann’s and the final stages of construction at Our Lady of Guadalupe, the mission church of St. Ann’s, located off Route 17.

The bazaar will be held next Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, July 31, Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Bethany Beach, along Route 26. Tickets for the raffle that have been sold at the Bethany Beach Seaside Craft Show and at Giant and Hocker’s Supercenter in Millville have already accumulated more than $2,000 in ticket sales, and more will be sold Saturday, Aug. 2, at the bazaar. They are available for $2 apiece or $5 for three.