Bladen County Extension Office celebrating Christmas early

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal

ELIZABETHTOWN – While downtown merchants in Elizabethtown were busy hawking their mid-summer deals at the Sidewalk Sale, Santa has been readying the Extension Office for an early Christmas.

Sponsored by the Bladen County Extension and Community Association for more than a decade, Christmas in July is held each year to raise money for a duo of scholarships. Featuring a bazaar and salad lunch, the event gives Bladen County shoppers the ability, having picked up manufactured merchandise during the Sidewalk Sale, to add one-of-a-kind or handmade items to their Christmas gifts.

“It’s mostly crafts people,” explained event planner Linda Rivenbark. “We always have The Gourd Lady – Pat Smith – and we’ll have handmade jewelry and wreaths, and there’s a little girl who is blind who does cross stitch – people always like her things.”

Additional items include things like purses and totes, pillows, and the Extension Office’s unique cookbook.

Shoppers may fill their bags with handmade goodies, but there will be plenty to fill the bellies as well. A highlight for many visitors is the salad lunch.

“People know that we have fantastic cooks, so they know they’re going to get a great meal,” Rivenbark remarked.

Lunch will consist of chicken salad, a lettuce salad similar to chicken won ton salad sans the chicken, a fruit salad, and a vegetable salad, as well as breadsticks and a beverage. Cost for the meal is $5 per person, and plates are available for carryout.

Carrying the meal out, however, will mean missing out on a couple of what organizers deem to be the high points of the event.

“What warms our hearts is standing back there serving lunch and seeing people talking and having a good time,” Rivenbark commented. “It’s just a good, fun time for people in Bladen County to get together.”

She added, “And I promise, once you get in, you’re going to want to stay and shop anyway.”

Vendor space for Christmas in July is $10 and is available by contacting the Extension Office at 910-862-4591.

Funds – which normally come in between $1,200 and $1,800 – pay for two college scholarships, one for a high school student and another for an adult.

Christmas in July will be held Friday, July 13 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Powell-Melvin Agriculture Center. The Center is located on Smith Circle in Elizabethtown.

“You don’t know what you’ve been missing until you come,” the planner commented.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing


Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal