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AUBURN — Volunteers at the hall for the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Auburn were moving swiftly from one part of the kitchen to another while preparing a flurry of Eastern European foods Saturday.

All of the efforts went toward the St. Nicholas food fest and craft fair, where various craft vendors were available while volunteers cooked up fare such as pierogies and kielbasa. The fundraisers event was run by St. Marion's Sisterhood at the church hall. Volunteers Kathy Wild, Amanda Armitage and Mary Ellen Dittmar said some volunteers had prepared for the event throughout the week and made massive loads of grub such as pierogies and potatoes at once. They said the work has been busy but rewarding, as the people in the kitchen traded jokes and stories throughout the process.

Sisterhood president Debbie Slobodiak and vice president Johanna Donch said the sisterhood enjoys holding the event for the community and sharing their ethnic food.

"And you do it to honor your past, too," Donch said.

Church member Karen Barski, who had helped with the food, could be seen at one point eating with friend Caitlin Miller. As someone of Polish descent, Barski said she feels at home with the foods that were being served up at the kitchen.

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Vendor Leah Mills had various tile coasters with everything from funny words and images retrieved from social media to nature photographs taken either by her or her brothers sprawled out for her table, Leah's Creations. She said this is a time where people search for gifts and that the church and the food draw people in. She said she has enjoyed her time creating coasters.

"It's fun watching some of the people's reactions to the quotes on here, and it gets me out and about in the community," Mills said.

Volunteer Jacquelyn Ann Aversa, who was by a table with a series of items donated by people that would be available by raffle, said she appreciates the various ethnic groups that populate the city and the culture they share.

"It's so diverse, even though it's so small, it's why I love Auburn," Aversa said.

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Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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