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Millcreek Journal

Carmelite Fair returns with events for the entire family

Sep 08, 2023 12:22PM ● By Collette Hayes

On Sunday, Sept. 17, the 12th annual 5K “Run for the Nuns” walk/run will be held. Start and finish lines will be at the Carmelite Monastery in Holladay. The race is open to all age levels and fitness abilities. (Photo credit Erika Solak)

The Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary monastery in Holladay prepares to welcome a crowd of thousands to its annual Carmelite Fair. 

Twelve cloistered nuns live, work and pray at the monastery. The nuns are independent of the diocese and live solely on alms. Donations received from the Carmelite Fair provide 80% of the monastery’s yearly income. 

There are more than 150 volunteers serving on fair committees to support the daylong event. Engineers, attorneys, business owners and many others donate time to chair committees. Chris Bertram, chairperson for the fair, was the former Chief of Police in Holladay until he retired in 2015. After retiring, he began to take more of an active role as chairperson for the Carmelite Fair. 

“I became involved in the fair with my dad,” Bertram said. “My dad, a retired FBI agent, was the chairperson for the fair for over 25 years. Fair preparation begins soon after the fair ends. We meet as a committee and talk about what went well and what needed to be improved. Starting in January our volunteer committees begin to meet monthly. Everything provided at the fair is donated from individuals or businesses. Most businesses have been donating for decades. The nuns pray for peace in the community. They pray for peace in the world. That is their vocation. They live a life of prayer every day. Our job as volunteers is to help provide funds so they can continue.”

Silent auction chairperson, Mary Solak, has a committee of five volunteers who work up to six hours a day four days a week beginning in February to prepare gift baskets for the silent auction. After gift basket donations are received, the committee creates over 250 gift baskets to be auctioned off at the fair.

“The silent auction committee has a certain quality level for the gift baskets,” Solak said. “Each year we want to be sure to retain a high bar for everything auctioned. We have support and donations for the baskets coming in from all over Utah as well as other states in the United States.” 

According to Bertram, it takes a lot of effort to prepare the monastery for the day-long event. Juan Diego High School students will arrive early the morning before the fair to prepare the monastery grounds. The Judge Memorial High school football team will gather at the monastery after the event to take down event booths and provide general cleanup of the monastery. 

“Our volunteers have become so dear to us,” Mother Therese said. “They come from all different parts of the Salt Lake Valley, all for the love of the nuns. We are here to serve the Lord by praying for the community as well as the entire world. The Lord takes care, and the Lord will provide.”

This year, an original oil on canvas painting donated by renowned Canadian contemporary visual artist Peter Winnett will be auctioned. Handmade goods, including embroidered items made by the nuns, a food court, dancers from around the world, giveaways such as a 2023 Kia and many prizes and games including a new duck derby in the children’s area will all be part of this year’s fair.

The lineup for Carmelite events:

Sunday, Sept. 17: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Carmelite Fair, Carmelite Monastery (5714 Holladay Blvd.). There will be limited parking near the monastery. Shuttle service will be available in the community at four different locations. For shuttle information visit:

Saturday, Sept 9: 8 a.m. 12th annual Golf for the Nuns Tournament, Old Mill Golf Course, shotgun scramble format. For tournament information contact [email protected]

Sunday, Sept. 17: 8-9 a.m. 12th annual 5K “Run for the Nuns” walk/run. The start and finish lines will be at the Carmelite Monastery. $25 registration fee. The race is open to all age levels and fitness abilities. For race information contact [email protected].

For more information about the Carmelite Fair visit:

For questions about how to become a volunteer or make a donation to the Carmelite Monastery of Salt Lake visit their website at: λ