The Back Story Behind Battle Ground’s Ladybug Bazaar

As you approach Main Street in central Battle Ground, you’ll see huge banners over the streets. They read, Ladybug Bazaar, First Saturday in November. The bazaar, now in its 51st year, draws throngs of people from Clark County and beyond to Battle Ground. Ladybug Bazaar is a holiday tradition for many. It’s an exciting combination of old fashioned holiday fun and food combined with 170 artists and crafters from Clark County displaying their wares.

The Success of Ladybug Bazaar

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The Ladybug Bazaar fills two gyms and the mezzanine at Battle Ground High School. Photo credit: Elizabeth R. Rose

So why does this particular bazaar in Battle Ground draw so many shoppers that the organizers have to alert the police? Well, part of it is the long-standing tradition and part of it is the passion of the organizers. They care that you have a good experience. They care that people come to support the vendors and their community.

Starting as a small bazaar of 12 tables in the basement of the Odd Fellows Hall in 1967, the event has grown in size and reputation over the years. It is currently one of the largest non-commercial bazaars in Southwest Washington. The bazaar supports only vendors who live in Clark County, Washington and items sold must be hand made.

It’s a community event with the high school choir entertaining and the JROTC helping set up the 186 tables and chairs for the event.

The Women Behind Ladybug Bazaar

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Anne Erickson (left) and Louise Tucker (right) are full of enthusiasm for the Ladybug Bazaar on November 4, 2017. Photo credit: Elizabeth R. Rose

I met with Louise Tucker, one of the founding members of the Battle Ground GFWC (General Federation of Women’s Clubs, an international service club organization), and club treasurer Anne Erickson. They enlightened me. It’s not just about providing a shopping experience. There is so much more to the story. Ladybug Bazaar fuels year-round giving for this local service organization.

And what they told me was surprising. The club consists of only 22 members! Twenty-two women coordinate the biggest holiday bazaar in the area and carefully choose the service projects and scholarship recipients who benefit from the proceeds.

So how do they pull off Ladybug? They have 30 supporters from the community and Battle Ground High School. This is a huge undertaking and the help of these seasonal volunteers is crucial.

And the club members are far from being burned out. Anne shared that she joined a group to play Bunco when she moved to Battle Ground from Colorado 12 years ago that included a couple of GFWC members. She shared, “They asked me right away if I was interested in GFWC. Eventually I joined and I have to say that today, I’m sorry I didn’t join sooner.”

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GFWC members picked berries at Majestic Blueberry Farm for the food bank. Pickers were Johanna, Lois, Mary Lee, Paulette, Bonnie, Karen in the back with Marla and Valerie in front. Photo courtesy: GFWC – Battle Ground

Louise, a founding member, wanted the club in Battle Ground because she was driving to Vancouver to participate in a service club. It was her way of “getting out of the house” and being in the supportive company of women. She added, “people, including me, like to volunteer.”

GFWC – The History

“If you can’t remember the full name of the organization, just call it Good Friends Who Care,” suggested Louise. This diverse collection of women’s service organizations was founded in 1890.

According to the GFWC history, GFWC’s roots can be traced back to 1868. June Cunningham Croly, a professional New York journalist, attempted to attend a dinner at an all-male press club honoring Charles Dickens. She was denied admittance based upon her gender, and, in response formed a club for women. In 1880, Croly extended an invitation to women’s clubs throughout the United States to attend a convention in New York City. Sixty-three clubs attended and took action to form the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Since inception, this federation proudly lists that their clubs have founded more than 75% of the nation’s libraries, developed kindergarten programs in public schools, worked for food and drug regulation and provided emergency relief assistance during disasters.

GFWC Battle Ground Impacts the Local Community

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The Little Free Library was constructed by member Anne (seated right) and decorated by member Sheila (not pictured). The ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by Mayor Johnson (center). Club president Johanna is seated on the left. Photo courtesy: GFWC – Battle Ground

After the Ladybug Bazaar is over and the money is counted, the club votes on service projects. They assess community needs, take requests and look for opportunities to make an impact in their areas of interest. They also provide scholarships for female Battle Ground High School students.

Their projects are small and varied but make an impact throughout the local community and beyond. They make both monetary contributions and in-kind gifts.

For example, last year they continued a blueberry picking tradition providing fresh berries to the local food bank. Recently five bike racks were donated to the city.

They supported the city’s Veterans’ Memorial Monument under construction in Battle Ground’s Kiwanis Park.

Placed in front of the Chamber of Commerce office, Battle Ground now has its first Little Free Library. “Take a book; leave a book” is the slogan of this nationwide literacy project. The structure was purchased, constructed and decorated by GFWC club members.

Domestic violence awareness and prevention is the “Signature Project” of GFWC. The Battle Ground club supports the YWCA women’s shelter and other projects to bring domestic violence awareness to the community.

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Ladybug Bazaar attracts craftspersons from all over Clark County. All items sold must be handmade. Photo courtesy: GFWC – Battle Ground

And the list goes on covering donations to help with diverse needs including international aid organizations and arts projects.

Shop ‘Til You Drop November 4, 2017

The 2017 Ladybug Bazaar is scheduled for November 4 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The vendor booths cover two gyms and the Battle Ground High School’s mezzanine. There is a two-year waiting list to get in as a vendor at this popular event.

When you go, you’ll be sustained by snacks. Have a hot dog, a pastry or some chili when you take a break from shopping. Home baked goods to take home are always popular.

You’ll find home décor items, jewelry, pottery, glass art, woodworking and more. As a reminder, no strollers are allowed. It’s a safety issue.

Entrance and parking is free at Battle Ground High School. Enter at 300 North Parkway Avenue in downtown Battle Ground.

You’ll feel good knowing the works of this local women’s service club will benefit from your holiday shopping. In addition, there will be a table where you can bring canned and boxed goods and monetary donations for the food bank.

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