Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion 
Robin Hahn, left, of Soldotna buys some hot cocoa bombs from Sherian Soares, right, and Ashley Soares, center, owners of Benny’s Sweets and Beyond, at a Valentine’s Bazaar in Soldotna on Saturday.

Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion Robin Hahn, left, of Soldotna buys some hot cocoa bombs from Sherian Soares, right, and Ashley Soares, center, owners of Benny’s Sweets and Beyond, at a Valentine’s Bazaar in Soldotna on Saturday.

Heart-shaped market

Community shares Valentine’s wares

Several local artisans set up shop in Soldotna to this weekend to offer shoppers Valentine’s Day gifts for their loved ones.

The Valentine’s Bazaar was hosted by Annette Villa, who also organizes the Wednesday Markets at Soldotna Creek Park and the Friday Markets in Old Town Kenai.

Located next to door to Back Up and Running Chiropractic, the bazaar featured about a dozen different vendors selling everything from handmade, heart-shaped jewelry to baked goods to laser-engraved artwork.

Diane Somers, owner of Hey Wire Jewelry, had a large stock available of her latest creations: Spoon rings. The rings are made from old sterling silver spoons, Somers said, that are bent using a special piece of equipment. Somers has to stick with sterling silver spoons, she said, because the stainless steel varieties don’t bend as easily. Luckily, Somers said, she was in the process of adding to her collection.

“One guy came in and saw them and said he had a whole bunch of spoons up in his attic from his grandma,” Somers said. “So I’ll be getting those and continuing to make more.”

Another popular booth at the bazaar belonged to Sherian and Ashley Soares, owners of Benny’s Sweets and Beyond. The Soares had several Valentine’s-themed baked goods for sale, including heart-shaped “hot cocoa bombs” that expand and release cocoa powder and marshmallows into a hot beverage of your choice.

“We suggest milk, but it’s a personal preference,” Ashley Soares said Saturday. “You can put it in hot water, or coffee.”

“Or your favorite alcoholic beverage,” Sherian Soares added.

Not everyone who had set up shop this weekend was selling their wares. Brian Gordon, who works for the Vet Center on Kalifornsky Beach Road, had a booth set up with free information about the services offered at the Vet Center and was attempting some outreach with the local veteran population.

“We have a big veteran population here on the peninsula,” Gordon said Saturday. “And because of the pandemic I’ve been in contact with them by telephone rather than in person. So we’re concerned about them being isolated.”

The Vet Center is a part of the VA Health Care Administration, but operates separately from the local VA clinic and offers services related to mental health counseling and other non-emergent medical issues.

Gordon said that he received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, so he hopes to resume in-person counseling services at the Vet Center in the near future.

Reach reporter Brian Mazurek at bmazurek@peninsulaclarion.com.

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