Carmelite Fair makes a comeback after 2-year COVID break

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HOLLADAY — After a two-year pause because of the pandemic, the annual Carmelite Fair in Holladay is returning Sunday.

For one day a year, the beautiful grounds of the Carmelite Monastery change from peaceful to lively as many come to enjoy and celebrate at the fair.

Hundreds come each year to enjoy food and buy gifts. All of the proceeds go to the nuns, the 12 sisters who live there. It is their annual source of income.

Mother Therese and two of the monastery founders, Mother Maureen and Mother Mary, are celebrating their 70th anniversary. They arrived in Utah as a group of five Sisters of Carmel in 1952.

They spoke with KSL-TV behind the grille. The nuns are cloistered, they do not see the public, and they are grateful.

Mother Therese is the Mother Superior, or leader of the sisters.

“After two years of not being able to have our fair, due to COVID, our community and our volunteers are very grateful that this year we can do it,” Mother Therese said.

Mother Mary is now 95 years old. “We are so touched by all the kindness of everyone; it’s just overwhelming. All through the year, people are always there in some way or another as our friends,” she said.

One room is filled with live auction items. In another, there are 300 gift baskets that volunteers have put together from the donations. Planning is a year-long process, and set-up for the silent auction has been going on for weeks.

Janet Vangelder, the chair of donations said, “The businesses I’ve contacted over the years, as soon as I called, they said, ‘We’ve been waiting for you!’ and it was really encouraging. The businesses were exceedingly generous and it was heartwarming.”

Outside, workers set up tents, tables, chairs and food booths. The fair is always an interfaith event.

Chris Bertram, Chairman of the Carmelite Fair said, “Especially from the community that’s not Catholic around here, that really sustains and helps the nuns. And I think it’s just understanding that the monastery is here and the Sisters of Carmelite are here because they care for the community, they pray for us.”

The sisters have a vocation — it is prayer. Mother Therese said it is their message to all Utahns, “We pray for the people around us, in their daily life, they need that support, they need that spiritual support, and we’re here for them.”

The Carmelite Fair begins Sunday at the monastery, 5714 Holladay Blvd., with a 5K Run for the Nuns at 8 a.m., then the fair from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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