Dolls attract hundreds

MARIETTA – The ballroom of Marietta’s Lafayette Hotel was wall-to-wall Sunday with thousands of teddy bears, dolls and related paraphernalia as hundreds of collectors, shoppers and curiosity-seekers attended the 23rd annual Teddy Bear and Doll Show and Sale in Marietta.

Kathy Shields, of Marietta, was carrying a large bag of items she’d just purchased at the show.

“I’m buying some things for Valentine’s Day and Easter for my three grandchildren,” she said. “It’s wonderful. This is my first time here, and I’ve been around the room twice already. You can’t take it all in.”

Stacy and Joey Martin, of Beverly, brought their 22-month-old son, Preston, to the event.

“We were here last year,” Stacy said. “I collect dolls, a lot of Middleton and special dolls. I also like antique dolls, and some here date back to the 1800s.”

Event coordinator Anna Vukovic said 35 vendors participated in Sunday’s show.

“They come from Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio,” she said. “Many come back year after year for this show.”

She said proceeds from the event go to the Marietta Memorial Health System’s Teddy Bear Fund that provides plush bears for kids who are facing medical treatments at Marietta Memorial and Selby General hospitals.

“And it’s not just for the kids,” Vukovic said. “We’ve also given them to some geriatric patients who are often confused when they come into the hospital. They’ll snuggle down with a teddy bear – it seems to comfort them.”

Local ambulance personnel sometimes also ask for a couple of teddy bears to keep in their units to use in case a child needs comforting during an emergency run.

“We hand out around 3,000 teddy bears every year,” Vukovic said.

Sherida Ritterbeck, owner of Sherida’s Bears in Caldwell, brought a variety of her unique teddy bears to the event.

“They’re all handmade. People often say don’t feed the bears, but I’ve stuffed every one of these,” she joked.

What makes Ritterbeck’s bears unique is the story behind many of them.

“People will often bring me something that belonged to a loved one who may have passed away – an old shirt, a piece of blue jean, neckties, or an old coat. One woman brought in a pair of boxer shorts,” she said. “I’ll use those materials to make them a teddy bear.”

Patty Hedrick, of Reno, was among the collectors at Sunday’s show.

“I’m always looking for the boy dolls,” she said. “I’ve been collecting off and on for several years now.”

Hedrick purchased a “Little Slugger” doll from vendor Carolyn Powell of Belmont.

“It’s a Zook Originals doll, made in Michigan,” Powell said. “The company no longer makes those dolls, so they’ve become quite collectible.”

Powell has participated in the show for several years.

“I had a doll shop in Belmont, but had to give it up. Now I just go to the doll shows,” she said. “I used to go to shows in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Tennessee. But I like this one. It’s the only one in this area, and it actually benefits a local charity.”

Canal Winchester resident Sally Werle is a collector who tries to attend the annual teddy bear and doll shows in Marietta.

“I collect all kinds of dolls, many I had growing up, like Chatty Cathy, Tiny Tears, Sweet Sue, and Betsy McCall. There’s just something lovely about dolls.”

A retired school teacher, Werle found a job that seems to suit her perfectly.

“I work with the American Girl doll store in Columbus,” she said. “I take care of the dolls’ hair. It’s the most pleasant job I’ve had.”

Vukovic said the annual Teddy Bear and Doll Show and Sale draws around 300 people and garners about $1,000 for the Teddy Bear Fund every year.