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Two years ago, Camellia Waldorf School’s Winter Faire was hit by something unexpected: rain. It flooded the parking lots, turned a dry creek into a creek and threatened the good spirits of the day. Participants shifted into the school for cover, while vendors put up their canopies and served hot chocolate and soup. Despite the rain, it was one of the busiest fairs that school has hosted, with reportedly 1,000 visitors.
“It didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s feelings,” event co-chair Sarah Rucker said. “It’s a reflection of the norm at Waldorf School. If it were snowing, we’d still have a blast.”
This year, the Winter Faire began under a cloudless sky on Saturday, December 10th, on the school grounds. Despite microphone trouble, the fair opened with the Southern Brothers Drum and Dance group, which had children to teens to adults performing dances of Native American origin. As they had for the past four years, they set the stage for the significance behind the event, with dances like “The Caterpillar Dance” involving transformation and change.
“It’s a blessing when they come,” co-chair Marisa Cheung said. “It sets the tone for the event. I always feel truly awakened when they perform.”
This year was the Winter Faire’s 23rd anniversary, which isn’t much younger than the school itself. When the fair was first created, Camellia Waldorf School was only a kindergarten and had yet to form its additional eight grades.The co-chairs shared the two main purposes for the fair: having a good time and public outreach.
The fair has always had an education room available, organized by school admissions director Deirdre Johnson, where families can see the schoolwork and artwork of the students and ask any questions they might have about the curriculum.
Aside from this, the fair is oriented to family fun. Children run around playgrounds with painted faces, older kids meet up by the vendors and artisans, and parents encourage their little ones to make candles or find the arts-and-crafts table.
A newer addition to the fair is the gingerbread house exhibit. Run by Nancy Ciraulo, the exhibit displays over 30 gingerbread houses for silent auction, donated by many nonprofit organizations. This year, houses were donated by the Asian Community Center, McKinley Library, My Sister's House, One Village, Sacramento/Yolo Mutual Housing Association, Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, Sharing Parents, and Short Center South. Ciraulo described it as a “community collaboration.”
Inspired children can also make their own gingerbread homes for $3. The small cost goes into school funds, as does the silent auction. The 40 vendors and artisans nearby also donate 20 percent of their revenue, making the Winter Faire a fundraising opportunity as well.
The vendors sell everything from toys and books to clothes and jewelry, and a few even have fresh treats. The school has a cafe offering fresh soup meant for the Golden Ladle Soup Competition, with soups from Capitol Garage, Taylor’s Kitchen and Cafe Bernardo. By the outdoor seating of the cafe, students and parents play music, the Christmas-themed tunes falling into the hum of hundreds of voices.
Even kids lend a helping hand at the fair. At The Children’s Store, no adult is allowed entry, only children with tickets for purchasing items. For those a bit too young to read or count, the store has fifth graders from the school ready to guide them. There was also a circus performed this year by sixth, seventh and eighth graders, with kids walking on stilts, riding unicycles, balancing plates and wearing goofy hats.
Other performances this year included puppet shows and a magician. A “pocket person,” or a clown covered in pockets, roams the fairgrounds. Children can give the pocket person a ticket in order to take a pre-wrapped gift out of one of these pockets.
“(Winter is) traditionally a time that people want to hibernate,” Rucker said. “But not here. They get into the spirit of the season.”
Camellia Waldorf School began small, as did the Winter Faire. Now, both the school and the fair have grown to something greater than first intended. The future looks bright for them, even in the depths of winter.
Editorial Note: Spelling corrections have been made to Deirdre Johnson's name and Sarah Rucker's name after this article was published.