Ramstein Welfare Bazaar
September 18-21, 2014
Ramstein AB, Germany
There are many long-standing traditions in military spouse clubs and organizations. For years, we’ve always hosted coffees and socials, operated thrift shops and raised money to help out our fellow military families. However, for one spouse club, their long-standing tradition has turned into a European-wide event rather than spouse ritual on the calendar. It’s the Ramstein Welfare Bazaar.
For the last 50 years, the Ramstein Officer Spouses Club (ROSC) has sponsored this amazing community experience. The Ramstein Welfare Bazaar has been a part of the military culture for those stationed in Europe since 1965. If you’ve ever been assigned to a base or post in Germany, Belgium, England, Italy or somewhere else in Europe, chances are you’ve attended or at least heard of this shopping extravaganza.
The first Ramstein Welfare Bazaar was held on Sept. 18-20, 1965 at the Ramstein Community Center. The Ramstein Officers’ Wives Club (now called ROSC), a small and close group of women, hosted this inaugural event. They had 66 vendors, 11 volunteers and made $5,000 in net proceeds.
Fast-forward 50 years, the Bazaar is now a massive, full-scale event that encompasses the resources and commitment of the Ramstein Air Base, the surrounding local Kaiserslautern economy and the military community.
In 2013, the ROSC had over 36,600 shoppers, parked 8,800 cars and grossed $1.76 million in sales. The event is hosted by the 86th Force Support Squadron and produced by the ROSC.
There were 135 vendors that sold items such as antiques, pottery, cheese, grandfather clocks, clothing, jewelry and food. The food court was manned entirely by Airmen and family volunteers from private organizations.
The best part is the entire even was supported with all volunteers; 11,582 volunteers hours. That includes over 7,000 hours from the Bazaar Committee, 2,000 volunteer hours during the event and 2,513 hours of volunteer time from private organizations.
Vendors from countries such as Russia, France, Poland, Portugal, Turkey and, of course, Germany travel to the Bazaar to showcase their hand crafted items and products.
Glenda Young, Bazaar Chairperson for the ROSC, believes there is a special connection between the ROSC and the vendors who travel to Ramstein every year.
“Some of our vendors have been partners with us for 40 years. We have one vendor, Giuseppe Scala and his family has been one of our wine vendors since 1975. When he passed away, his daughter continued the family tradition of showcasing their wines at our Bazaar. We look forward to seeing our vendors every year, they are like family.”
Celebrating the 50th Bazaar is truly a labor of love. The ROSC is expecting larger crowds over the four-day event, more vendors than ever before and special events and products commemorating this magical milestone. It’s big deal, especially when you understand it’s all organized and supported by volunteers – the military spouse community.
Giving Back and Paying It Forward
Most military spouse clubs can only dream of producing a fundraiser that rakes in $1.76 million dollars in revenue. After the bills are paid, the spouse clubs tally’s more than a quarter of million dollars in profit. Just like the event itself, the ROSC spends its profits on the community that supports them.