Teddy Bear & Doll Show

On Sunday the Lafayette Hotel’s ballroom will be stuffed with all kinds of collector and homemade teddy bears and dolls for the annual Teddy Bear and Doll Show and Sale.

For the 24th year, the annual show will be held with around 30 vendors coming in to offer teddy bears and dolls and even offer appraisals of each.

Len Gawler, 62, of Marietta, offers written appraisals for a small fee.

“I’ve done the show for 20 years,” he said. “(I offer) appraisals and set up antique dolls and toys.”

Gawler said there are a few things that keep him going back to the show year after year.

“It’s a good cause and you see people you’ve known for years,” he said.

Event Coordinator Anna Vukovic said the event has kept going because of the subject matter: toys.

“It’s dolls, it’s toys, (and) we have a lot of adults coming in,” she said. “It brings out the child in everybody. It’s good memories of dolls and finding out it’s worth a lot more is good, too.”

All ticket and table sales go toward the Marietta Area Teddy Bear Fund.

“It’s to buy teddy bears for kids in area hospitals,” said Vukovic. “It really makes a difference. In the hospital, they don’t know if they’re going to have tests, if it’s going to hurt. Give them a furry friend and they light up.”

Children 6 months to 12 years get a bear, but Vukovic said the giveaway doesn’t stop there.

“Even senior citizens, they’re down and confused, they take that bear and hug it to their chests; they light right up (too),” Vukovic said. “We take the bears down to the ER, too.”

Usually the event is well-attended, with about 200 people coming through the doors, Vukovic said.

“We had our biggest crowd in 2011, with (more than) 300 people,” she said. (Most) don’t just come in and walk through; they come out, hang around and share memories. They bring things in to be appraised.”

Around 30 vendors are expected to be in attendance, with many of them coming from out of the Marietta area.

“We have (vendors from) several different states; we have people from North Carolina, Michigan, Pittsburgh and of course, West Virginia and Ohio,” Vukovic said.

Noble County vendor Sherida Ritterbeck is bringing teddy bears to Sunday’s event from her business, Sherida’s Bears.

“I make homemade teddy bears and use a variety of fabrics,” she said. “I use old vintage furs and vintage fabrics. A lot of what I do is people bring something that has been in the family, of a loved one who has passed away. It’s a memory bear, something of importance.”

Currently working on a bear made from a wedding dress, Ritterbeck said she keeps as much of the original as she can.

“I use what I can add into the bear for architectural integrity: buttons, manufacturer’s label, anything structurally significant to bring as much of the original into the bear,” she said. “Sometimes it takes time to figure out how to incorporate it back in, whether it’s embroidery or bead work.”

Something special about this year’s show is that it’s dedicated to a well-known teddy bear appraiser who often attended local events.

“Ken Yenke recently passed away from cancer,” Vukovic said. “His wife and son are coming this year to keep up his tradition.”

Vukovic said it’s her hope that everyone comes out to embrace their inner child and make friends.

“People come out and enjoy it,” she said. “They talk to each other, back and forth. People stay for hours because they know it’s for a good cause: They’re helping the teddy bear fund; they’re helping themselves and other people.”

While Ritterbeck said she’s looking forward to networking, and that the event has something for everyone.

“It is a great event,” she said. “Young or old, there’s always that little girl in all of us, even boys (keep some inner child); who doesn’t like a little bear? It’s childhood memories, it’s just a great time.”