Keeping traditions alive with the Ramstein Bazaar
In 1965, the Ramstein Officers’ Wives’ Club (ROWC) came up with a relatively simple solution to help raise funds for scholarships and community grants: the Ramstein Bazaar. Vendors from around the world — including Europe, Hong Kong and India — could showcase and sell their merchandise. Anyone stationed at Ramstein Air Base was invited to peruse the goods and get an early start on holiday shopping. The date of the bazaar was specifically chosen so military families could purchase items and have enough time to send them back to the States before the holiday mailing deadline in October.
On Sept. 18, 1965 at 1 p.m., the Ramstein Bazaar opened its doors for the first time at the Ramstein Community Center. There were more than 60 vendors, one food tent, and just a handful of volunteers to make sure everything went off without a hitch. Over the three-day event, the ROWC netted a profit of $5,000, all of which went directly back into the community. The Ramstein Bazaar was a rousing success, and became an annual event every September.
Ramstein Bazaar today
Now in its 52nd year, the Ramstein Bazaar looks quite different than the smaller affair of 1965. The event is now an 86 Force Support Squadron event that is produced by the Ramstein Officers’ Spouses’ Club (ROSC). With 130 vendors, 25 food vendors and more than 500 volunteers, it has become the largest military bazaar in the world. More than 10,000 hours of volunteer time is spent making the bazaar as successful as it is. Planning for the next bazaar begins almost immediately after the current one ends.
The year it wasn’t
Since its inception, only one bazaar has been canceled. On Sept. 11, 2001, the bazaar volunteers were hard at work preparing the hangars for the vendors. Many were adding the last-minute touches and making sure that everything would run smoothly when the vendors checked in the following morning. As the volunteers were closing up, they received the news of that fateful day. In that moment, the Ramstein Bazaar ceased to exist. All the merchandise had to be removed because the Air Force now needed the hangars and flight line back.
2016 Ramstein Bazaar
The 2016 Ramstein Bazaar will take place Sept. 15-18, in Hangars 1 and 2, along the flight line. It will be open to U.S. DOD and NATO ID cardholders only. Guests are welcome, but only cardholders may make purchases. Volunteers are still needed and, as an incentive, will receive special access to the Red Carpet Shopping event the evening before the bazaar officially opens. For more information or to volunteer, please visit www.ramsteinbazaar.org or check them out on Facebook.