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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Want to get a head start on your Christmas shopping?

The 42nd annual Ramstein Welfare Bazaar — the largest of its kind in Europe — begins Thursday at Ramstein Air Base. The event will feature nearly 140 vendors from across the globe in two aircraft hangars.

Those looking to buy will find everything, from German wine to Russian china. There also will be 22 food vendors and entertainment.

Around 25,000 people, some coming as far away as U.S. military bases in Italy and the United Kingdom, showed up last year.

“We’re hoping for a bigger audience this year,” bazaar chairwoman Janice Speer said.

The 435th Services Squadron is sponsoring the event, while the Ramstein Officers’ Spouses Club is producing it. All of the proceeds are donated back to the community, Speer said. About 800 volunteers will help run the event.

Last year, the bazaar raised $297,000 for charitable organizations, according to the bazaar Web site. About 65 percent went to Defense Department schools and toward college scholarships.

This year’s bazaar will include some new vendors, including a furniture seller from Korea.

“We tried to bring in some fresh, new vendors in this year,” Speer said.

Only U.S. or NATO forces identification card holders may enter the bazaar. Payment for goods is in dollars only. However, USAF club card, Visa and Mastercard will be accepted.

Strollers are allowed Thursday and Friday but not allowed on the weekend.

Pets are not allowed on any day.

This year, the bazaar will stay open an hour later than usual on Friday to accommodate shoppers.

Bazaar facts

Location: Ramstein Air Base, Hangar 1 and 2

(Follow event signs to the flightline)

Thursday: noon to 8 p.m. (stroller day)

Friday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (stroller day)

Saturday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Organizers are still looking for volunteers. Those interested can sign up to help at the entrance.

For more information, go to www.ramstein-bazaar.org

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