The Annual French Country Market
● By Claudia Mosby
A Oui Bit of CharitySeptember 2013
By Claudia Mosby
Attention, Francophiles! Next month, Pilgrim Congregational Church once again will open its doors on Redding’s very own French quarter when it hosts its fourth annual French Country Market.
Valerie Scarisbrick, new to the church in 2010, wanted to create an event that would not only bring church members together but would welcome the larger community to festivities benefiting local nonprofit organizations.
“There are so many fundraising events,” says Scarisbrick. “I wanted to create something new that had not been done before in Redding, an event promoting fellowship, ‘fun’(d)raising, and a positive, vibrant presence in the community.”
A creative “doer,” Scarisbrick, who hails from England, thought back to the familiar markets she had known at home and in Europe. With all-things-French gaining popularity in America, she says the two ideas solidified into that of a French-themed country market.
With proposal in hand and assistance from other church members, Scarisbrick put together the inaugural market in less than three months. “As more people found out about it, they became interested,” she says. “I got to know the folks at church, what their talents were, and how we could best utilize them so it would be really fun.”
Maria Angwin heard the “market buzz” around the church and offered to make jewelry. “I bead for relaxation and pleasure and knew this was something I could do,” says Angwin, who oversees the La Bijouterie jewelry shop stall, including the design of all displays and jewelry packaging. “We’re all working toward the same goal—that of helping others—and that is really nice.”
In addition to La Bijouterie, visitors can browse for gifts at Le Petit Magasin; handmade confectionaries, breads and pastries at La Boulangerie; and fresh flowers, plants and herbs at Le Jardin Aux Fleurs. Collectors of vintage items will find treasures aplenty at the Collectionnes Millesimes stall.
Hungry shoppers can pop into Le Bistro for le dejeuner of soup, bread and dessert while enjoying both traditional French music and modern selections performed by vocalists and musicians on the market stage.
Visitors can also try their luck at Le Bonne Chance raffle, which features a half-dozen internationally themed baskets as well as a silent auction boasting several prizes, including two tickets to the annual Madrigals dinner hosted by the church.
For the first time, the market will display items made by the children of the church and reusable tote bags created from donated cloth.
Scarisbrick and logistics coordinator Michelle Martin Streeby begin planning each January for the October event. Church volunteers assist by making items or assembling them from kits that Scarisbrick has put together with ideas gleaned from Pinterest, French magazines and other sources.
Martin Streeby estimates the five-hour event draws between 400 and 500 attendees a year and raises $5,000 to $7,000 to distribute back to local agencies. “Many visitors come from the surrounding neighborhood, are friends of church members or are others who have heard about it, fell in love with the event and come back year after year,” she says.
Church support of the selected organizations continues year round and Martin Streeby says, “Many of these groups do not just receive a one-time check. We’re involved in food and clothing distribution with several of these organizations and also help with Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets.”
Organizers appreciate the support the community has shown for the French Country Market fundraiser, says Martin Streeby, who hopes people will come out again this year to enjoy the accordion music, handmade gifts and homemade French soup and baguette.
“You can do some shopping and walk away with a song in your heart knowing that you have helped others,” she says.
French Country Market, Saturday, October 4
10 am–3 pm, Pilgrim Congregational Church
2850 Foothill Blvd., Redding | 530-243-3121