A fun, family-friendly event to kick off the summer: the Ruth Keeler Memorial Library hosts its annual plant sale and craft bazaar


By: Jen Armbruster and Debbie Rizzo

Traditionally, the annual Ruth Keeler Memorial Library’s (RKML) fair, known as the “Book, Bake and Plant sale”, was a fun and successful fundraising event. The weekend would kick off on Friday night with the Cooks & Books party, where ticket holders got a first crack at the books, while being treated to beverages and delicious bites prepared by local chefs and home cooks. Then on Saturday, the fair would commence, bustling with hundreds of heirloom tomato plants generously and lovingly raised by Cynthia Curtis, perennial garden plants donated from local businesses and home gardeners, community groups spreading the word about their services, featured kids’ crafts, and a Baked Goods Bar hosted by the Friends of the Library (Friends).

In 2020 the fair was cancelled altogether due to the pandemic and this year’s fundraising event will also be different than in the past. Cynthia’s tomatoes and the local perennials will remain the only aspect of the traditional fair to take place this year. This year the Friends will take on a bigger role than in the past to fill the void left from the lack of books. The Friends have organized an outdoor bazaar featuring youth crafters. On Saturday May 22 (rain date May 23) from 11 am to 3 pm, youth entrepreneurs, 20 and under, will be selling their hand-made items such as jewelry, original paintings, wood pallet flags, pet treats and more. We are still seeking youth vendors for the event, and they should contact the library or email the Friends if interested at keelerfriends@wlsmail.org.

The library generously receives approximately 70 % of their operating budget from the town, the library board must fundraise for the rest. The Annual Appeal to the community helps to bridge that gap, but the Library Board of Trustees must also design and host fundraisers to close the remaining gap each year. Traditionally, the fair would be one of the year’s biggest fundraisers, helping with that budget gap.

In the past, the Friends of RKML’s contribution to the event was a grand bake sale, whose proceeds would be donated directly to the library to help in these fundraising efforts. With the pandemic, the Friends were unsure if the community would be interested in items baked in local homes. Therefore, we designed a giant basket raffle to replace the bake sale for this year.

There are 9 fanciful, jam-packed, highly valuable baskets that were generously put together through donations by local families and businesses and purchases by members of the Friends. Each basket was expertly assembled by the Friends Co-President Debra Rizzo, a local chef with an amazing eye for design. Baskets include Bountiful Beauty Box, Kids Crafts & Fun Bucket, Fore! PCC Golf Club Experience, Pampered in Red Basket, Friendly Get Together Basket, Happy, Healthy & Handsome Doggy Box, Gardener’s Delight Packed Planter, Lovely Local Favorites, and a Chance to Win Big Lotto Basket. Tickets for the baskets are being sold now, 10 for $25, and can be purchased by contacting the library, emailing the Friends, or online through this link. Tickets can also be purchased during the bazaar at the Friends of the RKML Membership Table. The drawing will take place at 3 PM on the day of the bazaar. All of the proceeds from the basket raffle will be donated directly to the library from the Friends of RKML.

There will be 2 food vendors at the fair this year (Three Little Pigs BBQ, and Kisco Sweets and Treat) safely providing delicious food and treats for our patrons to take home or enjoy in our designated seating areas. Another great feature this year will be a free craft offered by the North Salem Recreation department. They will be on hand with a craft kit for kids to put together. We hope the community will come out to purchase plants, crafts, food and enjoy this fun event organized outside with safety in mind.

The Outdoor Plant Sale and Craft Bazaar will take place on Saturday May 22 (rain date May 23) from 11 am to 3 pm. Please contact the Friends of RKML with any questions at keelerfriends@wlsmail.org or call the library at 914-669-5161.

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