Tray after tray of Christmas cookies, candies, jellies, jams, bars and breads, along with a host of ethnic delicacies like pizzelles, rosettes, sandbakkles, krumkake and biscotti, spread out on tables that stretch across the room ... that's what the public sees as soon as they walk into the Holy Rosary Parish Center for the church's annual Christmas Cookie Walk.
"We probably have at least 60 different kinds of cookies and candies every year," says Linda Schons, one of the members of the planning committee for the Cookie Walk. "There are over 100 trays prepared, and we usually sell out."
Indeed, while the Cookie Walk is scheduled from 8 to 10:30 a.m., the sooner you get there, the greater the selection, as Schons pointed out.
"There's no limit to how much a person can buy," she said. "Each person can fill up as many boxes as they want, and there are some kinds we do end up running out of early."
Another reason for arriving early, she said, is the fresh-baked cinnamon rolls, served up with cups of hot coffee until they're gone.
"We bake the cinnamon rolls that morning - I'm usually there (at the church) by 5:30 a.m.," Schons said.
Parish members also prepare lefse right there at the event and sell it fresh off the griddle, while it's still warm, she added.
"You can have lefse or a roll with your coffee - or some cookies if you prefer," Schons said, adding that while most varieties are sold by the pound, some of the specialty cookies, like the rosettes and pizelles, are sold separately.
So why is it called a "cookie walk," you ask? All the different varieties of holiday treats are put on trays and set out on tables in the church's Parish Center, where each person is given a styrofoam box and invited to walk among the tables, collecting as many of their favorites as they can fit in the box, which is then weighed. The contents are then sold by the pound, Schons noted, though some things, like the lefse, rolls, pies, breads and ethnic delicacies, are sold separately, for a set price.
"We also have a silent auction," she added. "There are a lot of Christmas things, and crafts, along with quilts, toys, and some baked goods as well. We usually get at least 75 different items to bid on for the auction."
Now in its 28th year, the Cookie Walk has become a holiday tradition that involves more than 100 church volunteers and sells well over 5,000 cookies: Some contribute cash to purchase ingredients for the cookies that are baked at the church in the weeks leading up to the event, while others donate their own cookies or candies, or donate items for the silent auction.
This year's event is scheduled to get underway this Saturday, Dec. 8 at 8 a.m. in the Parish Center, which is located at 1043 Lake Ave. in Detroit Lakes. For more information, please call the Holy Rosary church office at 218-847-1393.
More holiday happenings
Besides the Cookie Walk, several other local churches have holiday events planned for the coming weeks. Here is a sneak peek at some of them:
• First Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes will host a series of Advent Mini-Concerts during the first three Wednesdays in December (Dec. 5, 12 and 19). Each concert starts at noon in the church sanctuary, and will be followed by a (free will offering) soup and sandwich lunch in the fellowship hall. Featured performers are Tim Eggebraaten (Dec. 5), the Fergus Falls-based gospel quartet, aChord (Dec. 12) and the Laker Singers (Dec. 19). All are welcome to attend both the concert and the lunch. The church is located at 912 Lake Avenue. Call 218-847-5656 for more information.
• Heart O'Lakes Men's Barbershop Chorus presents "A Christmas of Peace and Harmony," Trinity Lutheran Church, 315 E. Mill, Pelican Rapids, at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9. The public is invited to come listen to and sing the carols of Christmas as the men of Heart O' Lakes Harmony Barbershop Chorus lead the singing and proclaim the message of Christmas through song, scripture, prayer and reflection. This free concert is one of the ways the men of Heart O' Lakes Harmony give back to their community - though there is no cost to attend, an offering will be received to help support area families in need during the holiday season. More information at www.facebook.com/heartolakes.
• First Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes will host a Christmas Concert by the Lakes Area Community Concert Band on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 4 p.m. Free admission, but a free will offering will be taken. The Lakes Area Community Concert Band has been in existence since 2006, and includes members from throughout the region. More information at www.lakesareaband.com. First Lutheran Church is located at 912 Lake Ave., Detroit Lakes.
• Detroit Lakes' United Methodist Church Adult Choir will host two performances of the Christmas concert, "Silent Was the Night," at 8:15 and 10 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16. Directed by Diane Jordan, the concert will feature percussionist Bill Mohn and accompanist Sharon Wesbrook. A Christmas tea will be served following both performances. The United Methodist Church is located at 885 Pembina Trail in Detroit Lakes. For more information please call the church office at 218-847-4818.
• Trinity Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes will host its 16th annual Candles & Carols Concert on Sunday, Dec. 16. The church at 1401 Madison Ave. will once again open its doors to the community at 4:30 p.m. for the Candles & Carols celebration - to be followed by a homemade turkey dinner in the church fellowship hall. For questions about Candles & Carols or tickets for the turkey dinner, call the church office at 218-847-7211 or the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce, 218-847-9202.