Final Year for Christmas at the Mansion

By Beacon Staff

For 30 years, the Conrad Mansion Museum has operated its main fundraiser under the opinion that it’s never too early for a little Christmas celebration with its annual holiday bazaar.

Christmas at the Mansion has become a staple in the valley for those seeking out crafts and artwork while enjoying the ambiance of the Conrad Mansion, which is decked out in Christmas cheer.

This year, Christmas at the Mansion takes place Oct. 25 through Oct. 27, and while the event is usually a jubilant affair, it will have a bittersweet tinge this year, as the mansion has declared this the final one.

“They have been doing it for 30 years and it’s kind of run its course,” Margot Jaumotte, assistant director at the Conrad mansion, said.

Christmas at the Mansion is the single biggest fundraiser for the museum each year, Jaumotte said, and the traffic and ticket purchases have declined in recent years, driving the decision to end the tradition.

“There are so many bazaars now at this time of year,” Jaumotte said. “Things have just kind of slowed down.”

This means the team at the mansion and museum will have to come up with a new type of major fundraiser to take its place, and Jaumotte said if that doesn’t work, then they may consider going back to the bazaar.

But that won’t preclude this year’s event from being a great time, she said. So far, there are 30 artisans and craftspeople scheduled to appear at Christmas at the Mansion.

The whole mansion will be decorated for the event, including a two-story Christmas tree. Miriam Emerson also donated her time and talents to restore each piece of the nearly life-size nativity scene that will be on display, and there will be sights, sounds and scents of the holiday season all throughout the mansion grounds.

On Friday, Oct. 25, the mansion hosts the preview party at 7 p.m., during which guests can peruse the rooms filled with goodies from the various vendors. It’s a champagne and desserts event, and tickets cost $45 for non-members, and $40 for members.

Doors for the bazaar open on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 10 a.m. John’s Angels catering will have lunch options on the porch for the attendees, and the cost for entrance is $5. The day ends at 5 p.m.

On Sunday, Oct. 27, the doors open at 11 a.m. and close at 5 p.m., and there is a $5 entrance fee.

Carol Holste hands lights to Don Bauder as they decorate a tree at the Conrad Mansion Museum. – Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

The vendors will be spread throughout the mansion in its various rooms, which can be a challenge for the vendors because there’s only so much the mansion staff can do with the 118-year-old building’s lighting, Jaumotte said.

That’s one of the contributing factors for the mansion’s decision to consider another type of fundraiser, she said, along with just embracing the opportunity for something new.

The Conrad hosts a variety of events throughout the year for fundraisers, including the recent Buffalo Bash held in September, the proceeds from which went toward the building’s security needs.

“It was very well received, the valley was very gracious to us,” Jaumotte said of the Bash.

There have also been efforts to raise money to rebuild the gazebo for the grounds, Jaumotte said, but that is proving difficult given the specific, historic parameters for the structure, such as finding tree bark shingles.

But Christmas at the Mansion is where the funds for the museum’s general operating money comes from, and Jaumotte said the community has been very generous in the past three decades.

“This is the big fundraiser of the year,” she said. “It’s important to us.”

For more information on the Conrad Mansion Museum, visit www.conradmansion.com or call 406-755-2166.

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