Beurs in Kensington, London.
Euro-Teddy in Essen, Germany.
Once you are infected with the bear virus, you never tire of meeting other bear people. That's why I travelled to the Swiss Bear Festival in Sigriswil, near Interlaken, this summer. It's a fantastic event in wonderful surroundings, for Sigriswil is an authentic Swiss mountain village with views of the Jungfrau. The festival, with its very warm atmosphere, was spread over four sites: the village school, the 'Bärenhotel' (bears' hotel), the village hall or 'Bärenhüttli' (bears' hut) and a bear market with all sorts of handicrafts and beautiful wood carvings.
In late August, Marjolein Vos and I went to London for a few days to visit the Kensington fair, where the Dutch also put in a big appearance. It's a friendly fair and the English are just crazy about their bears! What a pity that the British pound is so strong and everything is so expensive for us.
Then on to my final
bear adventure in Essen:
In mid-October, Essen's Messe building stages the big Euro-Teddy fair. I like to visit the Neumann shows because that's where I find lots of Steiff animals for my collection.
"If I'm going anyway," I thought, "why not hire a stand and even take part in the bear competition?" I have an extra advantage in this contest as there's a separate category for unclothed mini-bears.
The weekend at the exhibition was great, my stand attracted a lot of attention, and - as if that wasn't enough - at four o'clock on Sunday afternoon I heard my contestant's number being called out.
So it was straight to the stage with my mini-bears and guess what … … … Second Prize!
There I stood, totally unexpectedly, next to Marjolein Vos, who had won the public award with a big bear in clothes!
What a wonderful experience; we were both enormously proud.
I received a marble plaquette bearing the text: Europa-meisterschaft der Teddybärmacher 1999 (European master teddy-bear maker 1999).
It really is amazing to win two prizes in the space of half a year.