June 5th, 1999
For the first time
last year I rented a table in the Ahoy
This is the biggest Dutch show, where I would be able to find out what other teddy-bear lovers thought of my mini-bears. Many people were enthusiastic, and I went home with very few bears and loads of compliments.
Galvanised by my success in Rotterdam, I decided to submit an entry to the world's largest bear contest at the show in Hennef, near Cologne. I decided just to try my luck there, so I took part in the category for mini-bears of up to 12 cm. It was the first competition of my entire bear-making career!
in Hennef is the European show where the greatest number of international
bear-makers exhibit. Having set up my table on Saturday morning, I went to see
some fellow bear-makers' exhibits. After chatting with Leon and Hedy Roman van
Schaik for a while, I heard that both they and I had been nominated. Hedy
insisted that I go and take a look. As I walked past the display cases with all
the competition bears in them, I came upon my own mini-bears. To my amazement I
saw a blue pennant hanging there with the words: Teddybär-Total-1999, Der
Goldene George Nominiert.
That certainly got my heart beating faster. Having entered a competition for the first time, it's quite an honour to be nominated by an international professional jury. Later that day, at a Japanese-style evening party, my bears were shown on a screen with all the other nominees and all winners had to take the stage to receive their 'Urkunde' (certificate). It was exciting to be there with all those Japanese, American, Dutch, Belgian, Austrian, Swiss, Australian and British people, not forgetting our German friends-of-the-bear, of course, who had organised the festival so fantastically. Helga Torfs, Annemieke Koetse and Leon and Hedy Roman van Schaik had also been nominated.
Yes, and after eating Japanese sushi and a real bear cake, and even dancing with real bears, it truly was the perfect party.
As far as sales of my bears were concerned, I had nothing to complain about because I was completely sold out. It was also great on Saturday morning: as I was unpacking, Gigi Oeri came up to me and bought a set of bears for her Puppenhaus-Museum in Basel, Switzerland. I told her we were planning to visit the museum on our May vacation and her reaction was: "Then I'll make sure that they are in the display case!"
And as I drove home, tired but triumphant, my only care was how I could make new
mini-bears as quickly as possible, because on Ascension Day I was to be
exhibiting in Niesje Wolters' garden
and I did want to make something nice for that cosy little party. Fortunately, I
managed even that and a number of new bears first saw the light of day during my
May vacation. Now I had to come up with some new ideas for the Ahoyshow
in November. But I'd still got the whole summer in front of me.