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Multiform bazaar delights

From musicians and artists to book lovers and even honey cultivators, WMNF’s Annual Holiday Bazaar has quickly become an event that brings out the vibrant diversity of Tampa Bay. This event had something for everyone from every walk of life. At first it was total sensory overload – a barrage of colors, smells and sounds. But after a moment’s adjustment, it was just a matter of figuring out which venue to pursue first.

Held at the Cuban Club in Ybor, the Bazaar is only in its second year. Volunteers loyal to the radio station ran every event.

“When it first started it was just books and music,” said volunteer Susan Shellberg, who worked the bazaar last year. “They turned it into more of a holiday bazaar, bringing in local arts and crafts and music, so it’s more of a holiday festival.”

There were four floors to the event; each level held something unique and interesting.

Along with a variety of other jewelry makers, the second floor featured a table for Bead For Life – an organization dedicated to the employment of impoverished women in Uganda, West Africa. Arlene Englehardt, host of WMNF’s Women’s Show, manned the table and explained the concept behind the organization.

“These are Ugandan women whose husbands were either killed by the many wars or died of AIDS,” said Englehardt. “They make (beads) out of pages from magazines. They string them and they sell them.”

Through word of mouth and the conviction of one American woman, the Bead For Life project was created. The beads are now sold in North America, Europe and Australia, Englehardt said. The project has helped to give these women and their families a chance at stability.

“Those are the stories I like,” said Shellberg. “You hear it on the radio and people listen and they come in for the beads.”

Southern folk artist Jack Beverland had his own story.

“I start with the title and I paint from there,” said Beverland “Whatever the title means to me is what I paint. When I lost my job in 1990, I went crazy,” he said. “I went into a pity party. In ’91, I started drawing.”

Since then, Beverland has won several awards for his artistic statements and has been noted in Marquis Who’s Who in American Art.

One constant throughout the diversity at the Bazaar was the presence of friendly faces and people willing to lend a helping hand. Most of them had the same general opinion about the events of the day.

“I think it’s wonderful that people are sharing in the community,” said volunteer Lemeul Mandele. “Like they say, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’ It’s good to see that, in living in such a wasteful society, things are being reutilized.”

A sense of community and helpfulness seemed to be the main threads stringing Holiday Bazaar’s attendees together.

“It’s a great way to get the community together,” said Jacqueline Conley, co-owner of the International Bazaar in Ybor City and one of the event vendors. “An independent radio station is a lifesaver. It shows the diversity of Tampa.”