HOLLADAY—The sisters of Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary work year-round to support themselves. Along with growing their own food, they put up hundreds of pounds of jam and make thousands of pounds of candies to be sold at the annual Carmelite Fair. A bevy of close to 300 volunteers take it from there, adding handcrafts, food, auctions, rides, games and entertainment to make the fair a true community gathering.
While many of the volunteers have donated a great deal of time to the endeavor, perhaps none have done more than Sherry Walker and her family. Walker and her husband, Steve, began helping out in 1993 along with their sons Shane, Scott and Sean, who were then 4, 7 and 10.
For the first 17 years Walker just handled the jam booth. Then in 2010 the Walkers tragically lost their youngest son, Shane, who had helped at the fair every year since that first time.
Shortly after his death, at a lunch for extern sister Sr. Mary Joseph Whipperman’s birthday, the nun reached out and comforted Walker, who was struggling in her grief.
Not long after, Sr. Mary Joseph passed away and Walker met Sr. Therese Bui, who is now the prioress, for the first time. Sr. Therese told Walker that Sr. Mary Joseph had shared her story with the other nuns, who had been praying for her. Sr. Therese also gave her words of comfort. With the expressions of love and the faith the nuns showed, Walker said, she began to be able to heal.
“With that gift, how can I not do everything I possibly can for the sisters?” she said.
These days, Walker travels to various parishes throughout the year to sell the candy, and every year she and Steve spend the entire day at the fair in the jam and candy booth. This year will be no different. The booth will be filled with hundreds of pounds of handmade candies, along with a variety of jams.
Every year staples such as peach, pear, plum, strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb, cherry, mango, raspberry and blueberry are sold at the booth. Other varieties depend on what was donated to the sisters and what volunteers like Walker found at a good price. The sisters make every batch by hand, using no pectin or preservatives except for lemon juice and just enough sugar to make a gel.
These days, thanks to Steve Walker, in addition to individual jars they also offer Sister Six-packs – six varieties of jam in miniature wooden crates handmade by him.
This year the booth will also have handmade wooden cutting boards made and donated by David Hughes, a retired St Ambrose parishioner who fashions them as a hobby.
Hughes crafts the cutting boards from domestic and exotic hardwoods. They range in size from 20 x 13 inches to trivet size. After he assembles them, he runs them through a planer and then has them put through an industrial sander. Hughes does not paint or stain the cutting boards, preferring to oil them with a couple of layers of coconut oil instead.
“The ladies need someone to take care of them, and I’m just one of many,” he said of his donation. “It’s an honor and a pleasure to help.”
Along with the jam and candy booth, at other booths handcrafted items made by the nuns and friends in the community will be sold.
The fair will also feature Asian, Basque and Mexican food, along with hot dogs, cheese dogs, hamburgers and cheeseburgers as well as ice cream, coffee and soft drinks.
There will be a variety of entertainment from different cultures. The performance lineup features the Utah Basque Dancers, OPA Greek Dancers, WestSide Mexican Folk Dancers, the Chinese Lion Dance and Passion Flamenca as well as the Utah Pipe Band and the Juan Diego Catholic High School Steel Band.
A live auction, a silent auction and a prize drawing will include prizes such as a 2018 Kia Niro, Traeger Grill/Smoker, an Apple iPad, a side of beef and other items.
WHAT: Carmelite Fair
WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 16, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
WHERE: Carmelite monastery, 5714 Holladay Blvd., Holladay
Free and open to the public.