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Kouts hosts its 33rd annual holiday open house

Mary Haws Rockford Ill. makes purchase from LisHajek Caleb's Corner County Road 900 South during Kouts Christmas Open House Saturday

Mary Haws of Rockford, Ill. makes a purchase from Lisa Hajek at Caleb's Corner on County Road 900 South during the Kouts Christmas Open House Saturday, December 1, 2012. The town-wide event continues Sunday. | Michael Gard~For Sun Times Media

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If you go

The 33rd annual Kouts Christmas Open House continues Sunday; hours vary by site. Maps are available at Family Express, at Indiana 8 and Indiana 49.

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Updated: January 3, 2013 6:26AM



KOUTS — Mary Brewer is a regular at the annual Kouts Christmas Open House.

More specifically, the Valparaiso resident is a regular at Ken Gilbert’s wood shop on Polland Avenue. Gilbert has participated in the open house for most of the past 25 years.

“She comes here every year,” Gilbert said.

“I’m always here,” Brewer added, getting ready to buy a miniature rocking horse handcrafted by Gilbert, and eyeing the wooden reindeer nearby. “And I have to buy more deer. I’m adding to the herd.”

Brewer likes to stop by Gilbert’s first, before his inventory sells out. Over the years, she has purchased benches and produce bins, among other items.

This marks the 33rd year for the open house, when homeowners — as well as churches and some businesses — open their doors for the weekend to sell goods, many handmade, for Christmas. More than 40 places participated Saturday, and the open house continues Sunday.

Brewer likes driving around to the different sites — she planned on hitting around 18 Saturday. She finds the town isn’t crowded like the stores — and everybody’s friendly.

She shops for pumpkin rolls and wreaths during the open house, too, but they aren’t her main focus.

“The wood is really the stuff I like the best. That’s what I do,” she said.

Gilbert said he enjoys the open house as well, and woodworking is a longstanding hobby of his.

“Maybe the weather is helping some, but this morning, it’s been super busy, and people are buying,” he said.

Business also was brisk at the Mentor Street home of Marjorie and Leonard Clark. The couple, who moved to Kouts from Valparaiso four years ago, also are regular participants in the open house, selling their flavored popcorn, as well as pickles.

While Leonard tended to customers, Marjorie said he started working for Orville Redenbacher right out of high school, and joked popcorn was in his blood.

Still, he develops the recipe for the flavored popcorn, and the couple has fun during the open house.

“It’s seeing people like the product. We’re just foodies,” and like other folks who are, too, Marjorie said.



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