Teddy Bear show canceled this year

The Teddy Bear and Doll Show has brought visitors into Marietta for 25 years but this year the show will not take place due to lack of participants, leaving community members unhappy and disappointed.

“We’ve already had interested people call in and email us about the event and we’ve had to deliver the bad news,” said Shannon Folts, tourism experience director for the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s sad to see any event that brings in people to Marietta go and we hope something similar may take its place.”

Held in January every year, the Memorial Health System event drew in an outside audience of teddy bear and doll collectors, but also raised money for a local cause. All the exhibitor fees, ticket sales and raffle profits made at the event went toward the Marietta Area Teddy Bear Fund which allows teddy bears to be given to children from infants to 12 in several area hospitals.

“People marked their calendars just to attend this event from everywhere,” said Folts.

More than 200 people attended the event last year including Brenda Yenke, a bear appraiser and collector from the Cleveland area.

“I remember my husband and I taking our son who is now 24 years old, to this event when he was just a toddler,” she said. “It was sad to tell some of my customers that I wouldn’t be seeing them in Marietta this year for the show.”

Yenke said the younger generation isn’t into collectibles like the older generation is.

“We’ve developed so many friendships and relationships over the years and it was a tradition among a lot of people,” she said. “Maybe they’ll come up with something to replace it but I am so sad to see the show go.”

According to Jennifer Offenberger, director of marketing for the Memorial Health System, there was a decline in vendors participating in the show.

“We want to put on an event that can please and we didn’t have as strong of an interest as we have in the past,” she said.

Offenberger said she would like to re-evaluate the Teddy Bear and Doll Show for 2018.

Sherida Ritterbeck is a teddy bear maker with Sherida’s Bears from Caldwell who was anxiously awaiting to participate in this year’s show.

“I’ve participated for probably the last 10 years, maybe longer,” said Ritterbeck. “I was very disappointed to hear it wasn’t happening this year.”

Ritterbeck said her grandchildren looked forward to the show every year.

“It was such a fun time for everyone and for such a great cause and that’s really going to be missed in the community,” she added. “Hopefully we will see a return.”

Online bear auctions have taken off since the idea of live doll and teddy bear shows is slowly decreasing all over the country. Valeria Rogers of Louisville, Kentucky, has been a teddy bear collector for 36 years and runs the online bear show website bright-star-promotions.com.

“Online shows allow vendors to sell worldwide and allows the older generation of collectors to learn about technology,” she said. “Online shows make for a bigger market and is becoming the new thing.”

Rogers has attended events all over the country and runs the oldest online teddy bear magazine, bearsandbuds.com.

“It’s always sad to see an event die down but everything changes and technology is taking over our world,” she said.

 

At a glance

¯This year would have marked the 26th year for the Teddy Bear and Doll Show.

¯This event has taken place at the Lafayette Hotel and has brought in tourists from all over the country.

¯The show, coordinated by the Memorial Health System, will not be held this year.

Source: Jennifer Offenberger.

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