The Ramstein 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 Bazaar was held from Sept. 18 to 20, 1965, at the Ramstein Community Center. The Ramstein Officers’ Wives Club, 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 51 years, the bazaar is now an official 86th Force Support Squadron event.
It is a massive, full-scale event that encompasses the resources and commitment of Ramstein Air Base, the surrounding local economy and the KMC.
In 2014, the Ramstein Bazaar celebrated its 50th year. It was a huge success through the selfless efforts of hundreds of volunteers contributing over 11,500 volunteer hours. There were 7,400 cars parked, 28,000 patrons served and $1.748 million sales with net proceeds exceeding $265,000.
This year, the bazaar will have more than 135 vendors selling items such as antiques, pottery, cheese, grandfather clocks, clothing, jewelry and more. There will be dozens of food options as well. The food court is manned entirely by Airmen and family volunteers from private organizations.
The 2015 Ramstein Bazaar will host vendors from countries such as Russia, France, Poland, Portugal, Turkey and Germany who travel to the bazaar to showcase their handcrafted items and products.
Net proceeds from the Ramstein Bazaar are given back to the KMC through the Ramstein Officers’ Spouses Club Welfare Fund, benefiting organizations such as Air Force Aid Society, Fisher House, USO, Department of Defense Education Activity schools, Boy and Girl Scouts of America and other local programs.
Kelly Rodriguez, 2015 Ramstein Bazaar chair for ROSC, says the bazaar helps non-profit and community organizations around base that would not usually receive funding.
“In the past 15 years alone, ROSC has returned over $3.7 million to the community towards functions like high school graduation, scout programs and various group and squadron awards, not to mention over $2 million in college scholarships to our military connected children,” Rodriguez said.
From January to August 2015, ROSC has given away $60,000 in scholarships, $33,000 to schools, $19,000 to KMC organizations, $13,000 to base organizations, $3,000 to youth groups, $2,900 to scout programs and $1,000 to local chapters of national organizations.
To really understand the impact the event has on the community, come experience the bazaar for yourself. Supporting and shopping at the Ramstein Bazaar is not only a fun experience with incredible vendors and food, but shoppers also financially help hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and their families.
For more information on the Ramstein Bazaar or to volunteer, visit www.ramsteinbazaar.org, or search for Ramstein Bazaar on Facebook.