The event began as a small craft fair that filled the school's cafeteria to a shopping extravaganza that now floods the building's cafeteria, gymnasium and lower-level hallways for a day.
"The event got started many years ago as a fundraiser for the Community Education Foundation, a district-wide organization that provides grants for a variety of things for the schools and/or staff," TJ Office Manager and Secretary to the Principal Jeanne Maciejewski said in an e-mail to Patch. "Through the years, they had fewer and fewer volunteers and it was just a couple of us that did all the work and continued to make it happen."
Because of her link to TJ and funding needs at the middle school, Maciejewski took the reins of the event — converting it to a fundraiser to support TJ.
"With shrinking school budgets, and lowered profits from our regular annual all-school fundraiser, we would have had to cut or limit many of the opportunities that are so important for middle school students," she said. "So, it became the TJ Marketplace instead — and that is more representative of the event itself."
The event has grown to more than 80 vendors this year, and also includes "Lunch with Santa," an hour-long event for kids to dine and spend quality time with the Jolly old man while their parents shop.
"Many people come to see their favorite representative for such companies as Tastefully Simple, Tupperware, Creative Memories, Stampin' Up!, Avon, Pampered Chef, L’Bri, Silpada, Dove Chocolate, Scentsy and more," Maciejewski said. "And there are crafters that are working in virtually every medium — from artwork to jewelry to fabric arts of all kinds, candles, bath and body products, ceramics and pottery, holiday ornaments and décor, photography, handmade greeting cards and stationary, and more."
Other items include: handmade herbal oils and soaps; bath and body products made with goat’s milk; Saukville business Dawgs in Motion one of the first pet-associated vendors this year; teacher-made jewelry from recycled items; duct tape items made by a student; Kitchen tols; jams, jellies and pickled and canned goods; and "several booths featuring items made by students in some of our Special Education classes here at TJ and also from Dunwiddie," Maciejewski said.
"We strive to get a large variety of crafters and vendors so that that people can find unusual and fun items for everyone on their gift lists," she said, "and for themselves as well.
The event runs from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday and costs $2 for admission. For more information check the Patch calendar or the attached brochure.