Polar Sweet Express sees new changes
by Amy Cherry
Ridgway, Pa. – The Polar Sweet Express vendor show is coming to Ridgway this year as the event will be held at the Central Fire Hall on North Broad Street for the first time since it began four years ago.
On Saturday, Feb. 8 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. visitors can peruse a plethora of products at booths showcasing jewelry, candles, crafts, primitive decor, cosmetics, children's clothing and accessories, wine, purses, wreaths and homemade soaps to embroidery items, doll clothing, sweets such as candy and kettle corn, furniture, cookware and aprons.
The one-stop shopping experience is an ideal event to pick up Valentine's Day gifts for loved ones.
"We're having a party. There's music, beer and wine tastings and food," said Paula Weyant, vendor organizer.
All proceeds benefit CAPSEA (Citizens Against Physical, Sexual, and Emotional Abuse), based in Ridgway. In addition to CAPSEA, event sponsors are Straub Beer, Elk County Foods, Northwest Savings Bank and The River 98.9.
New this year is an added hour to the event at the vendors' request.
"Last year we were still packed at 2 p.m., even with bad weather," Weyant said.
Also this year the silent auction is being replaced with a basket drawing. Those wanting to donate a basket may contact organizers on Facebook through the Polar Sweet Express 2014 page, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 772-3838.
Among some of the basket items available to win are a roaster oven, full/queen size comforter, a dollhouse, a scooter, crockpot hookup, humidifier, vacuum, a glass mosaic art piece and a hand-painted wooden decorative sled.
Currently the event is full to capacity with nearly 40 vendors and at least three vendors on a waiting list.
According to Billie Jo Weyant, CAPSEA executive director, the move to Ridgway this year solves the issue of parking, which has been a challenge at previous locations.
Due to the fire hall being centrally located, visitors can utilize parking at the facility, Elk County Foods, downtown and the carnival grounds. The fire hall also allows for additional space for vendors.
Now in its fourth year, the Polar Sweet Express has always been held in St. Marys. The first two years it took place at the downtown Franklin Center and last year at the Edgewood reception hall along the highway.
"Our location had to grow with the interest from the people who wanted to sell their items," Weyant said.
According to Billie Jo, people from Ridgway were very receptive of hosting the event and asked CAPSEA when it was going to be held in Ridgway.
"People here (in Elk County) are great supporters of CAPSEA," said Bille Jo.
The Polar Sweet Express helps to restock all of CAPSEA's shelter items.
Bille Jo explained that rather than using fundraiser dollars to purchase supplies CAPSEA can utilize the donations at their shelters.
"It's as good as cash," said Billie Jo.
Gas cards and gift cards are among two items which are utilized frequently by those at the shelter.
"We really see a lot of people who don't have any money and they just need to put gas in their cars and need a little help that way. We welcome anything," said Billie Jo referring to any types of donations.
The event has become more popular each year since its inception with both new and repeat vendors signing up.
"We've just been adding to it and growing it every year," Weyant said.
Weyant maintains and organizes vendor registration and setup while Billie Jo and fellow CAPSEA staff work on collecting items and baskets for the drawing.
The one-stop shopping experience is an ideal event to pick up Valentine's Day gifts for loved ones as well as treat yourself to a visit to the chocolate dipping station to indulge a sweet tooth by purchasing various snack items or fruit which volunteers then coat in chocolate. Year after year this has proven to be a crowd favorite.
Beer and wine tastings are being offered by Straub Brewery and the Elk Mountain Winery.
As in past years lunch items and beverages will be available for purchase through Elk County Foods.
Admission is free and those donating a CAPSEA wish list item will be registered to win numerous prizes. Additional tickets on prize items may be purchased.
Items listed on CAPSEA's wish list are as follows: household items - bath, kitchen, hand towels, washcloths, dishcloths, blankets, sheets, pillow cases, umbrellas, trash bags (13, 30 and 45 gallon), laundry soap, dryer sheets, dish liquid, dishwasher detergent, light bulbs, hand sanitizer, foil/saran wrap, storage bags (all sizes), bar soap and body wash; cleaning supplies -
Lysol and Clorox spray and wipes, bleach, Murphy's oil soap, PineSol, Brillo pads, Magic Erasers and furniture polish; paper products - tea bags and coffee, hot chocolate, sugar/sugar substitutes, dry creamer, juice boxes, canned/boxed food, cereal, crackers, peanut butter, condiments and salt/pepper/spices; children's needs - blankets, disposable diapers, baby monitors, toys, board games; drug store needs - children/adult Tylenol, adult and child cold medication, toothpaste, toothbrushes, Ibuprofen, hair brushes, Benadryl, first aid cream, Band-aids, thermometers, feminine hygiene products and razor/shaving creams; miscellaneous items - old cell phones, phone cards for victims and postage stamps; and gift cards for gas, pizza shops, and grocery stores.