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Bob Drewitt, a craftsman for Woodlands Studio in the United Kingdom, customizes a wall decoration for a customer during the 42nd annual Ramstein Welfare Bazaar.
Bob Drewitt, a craftsman for Woodlands Studio in the United Kingdom, customizes a wall decoration for a customer during the 42nd annual Ramstein Welfare Bazaar. (Ben Bloker / S&S)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The 42nd annual Ramstein Welfare Bazaar topped $2.3 million in sales last week in one of the fundraiser’s biggest grossing years in history.

About 23,000 shoppers turned out for the U.S. military’s largest bazaar in Europe, said Janice Speer, one of the bazaar’s organizers.

Fewer shoppers came out for the four-day event compared to last year, but visitors shelled out more cash on such items as English antiques, Persian rugs, Tuscan wine, German clocks and Dutch cheese. About 25,000 people attended last year’s bazaar and spent a little more than $2 million. In 2004, the bazaar brought in $2.2 million in sales.

“We are absolutely thrilled,” Speer said of this year’s turnout.

About 15 percent of the sales money is donated to charities and community organizations in the Kaiserslautern area. Last year’s proceeds went to Department of Defense Dependents Schools, scholarships, national charitable organizations, community support groups, area youth activities and Scout organizations.

This year’s bazaar — which featured more than 140 vendors in two aircraft hangars and a tent — will donate between $300,000 and $350,000 to charitable donations and the community, Speer said. A Korean furniture company did so well at last week’s event that he sold all of his merchandise in the four days, Speer said.

Food vendors did well, too.

Units and commands in the area sold food at booths to raise money. For example, the A-3 Booster Club — a fundraising group that supports morale-boosting activities for the Directorate of Air and Space Operations at Ramstein Air Base — earned about $3,400 selling bratwurst and hot dogs.

“We did very well,” said Capt. José Mercado, who was among the 40 volunteers who worked at the club’s booth.

The 435th Services Squadron sponsored the bazaar, and the Ramstein Officers’ Spouses Club produced the event. Planning for this year’s bazaar began in February.

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