Next weekend will mark the 98th year St. Joseph’s School has thrown their annual fundraiser, the St. Joseph School Bazaar.

The festival has evolved over the years, Lori Ross, executive committee member said.

The big raffle prize this year is a black, 2010 Chevrolet Camaro. In the early days of the festival, the big ticket item was a bale of cotton.

Honorary Chair Bill Hegeman said, "Back in those days, cotton was still king. We were an agricultural county and a bale of cotton was very valuable."

Ticket sales for the raffle drawing, games, silent and live auction bids, box lunches and the family-style spaghetti dinner sales will all go to the operation of the school.

The Bazaar, the largest fundraiser the school hosts, will begin with box lunches available for delivery or carry-out Friday. The menu this year includes spaghetti and marinara, with homemade noodles, a deviation from years past.

"We’re also serving our spaghetti with sausage on the side. We’re cooking a little over 300 pounds of spaghetti," Marilyn Dail, central committee chairperson of the Bazaar’s kitchen, said.

Box lunches, Ross said, are a popular way local businesses participate in the Bazaar.

To place an order for Friday’s box lunch, at $7 per box, call 329-3865. The lunches are available at Parish Hall from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Friday from 5 to 8 p.m., a family-style dinner will be served in the Parish Hall. The all-you-can-eat meal includes homemade spaghetti, fried chicken and several sides. 

Friday at 6 p.m. the fundraiser’s "Old Fashioned Midway" begins. This family event has a festival feel. It will take place on the church grounds and includes games for kids and adults, as well as food.

Bingo is a popular event at the Midway, Ross said. 

At 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 7, the doors of St. Joseph Parish Hall open for the Bazaar’s silent and live auctions.

"Last year we took a chance and made a big change and put a lot of focus on a live and silent auction. It was very successful," Ross said.

Silent auction items include a Michael Jackson "Thriller" autographed record, an electric guitar signed by Taylor Swift, a photo autographed by "Twilight" stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, local food, entertainment and beauty packages and getaways.

Live auction items include an overnight limousine ride to Tunica, Miss., a weekend on a party barge, a murder mystery dinner for 12, and the popular "his and her" gym parking spaces for the school’s athletic events and many more local packages. 

The school’s year-round flea market will hold special hours during the festival. On Thursday, the market will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, it will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"The thing that’s been the best about this, and I’ve been fortunate to have worked a lot of years, in a lot of capacities at the Bazaar, is that it really is a community event," Hegeman said. "Even though all proceeds go to support the school, I’m amazed at the turnout of community members who do not belong to the school or church. They come to the Bazaar, to the family dinner, order box lunches and even volunteer at the event."

Tickets for the raffle are available at more than 25 locations. The second prize is a HP laptop package valued at $500, and third prize is $250 cash. The drawing will be held on Saturday, at the end of the live auction.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)