- Associated Press - Sunday, June 4, 2017

HAMPTON, Va. (AP) - The Bodacious Bazaar is more than just three days of shopping, food and wine.

Behind the vision of the booths, live bands and food trucks inside the Hampton Roads Convention is a family-run business dedicated to giving back.

Sandra Watts-Gardner and her family donate part of the proceeds from each Bodacious Bazaar to local nonprofits. Proceeds from the spring bazaar’s $20 wine tastings go directly to the Fort Monroe Foundation, which helps preserve and promote the Fort Monroe.

“I’m glad we’ve partnered up with Fort Monroe and we are excited about helping the foundation out,” Watts-Gardner said. “We want to do anything we can do to keep that fort alive. They are a great partnership.”

This year’s spring bazaar includes 250 vendors, a classic car show and six food trucks, according to Watts-Gardner. Local musical acts Buckshot will be featured Friday, The Deloreans on Saturday and The Rhondels on Sunday.

Tickets are $7 for adults, $4 for children and those in strollers are free. Two-day tickets are $10 and tickets for wine tastings are $20.

The show is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the convention center.

Fort Monroe had hosted the spring Bodacious Bazaar for the past three years. The Gardners moved it outside to create a festival atmosphere for the specific crowd that frequently attended the spring show - and the convention center did not allow food trucks at the time.

Although they loved Fort Monroe as a venue, the weather did not. The spring bazaar will return the Hampton Roads Convention Center this weekend. Food trucks are now allowed on site.

The Gardner family began the Bodacious Bazaar after attending Richmond’s Bizarre Bazaar. Inspired, Watts-Gardner wanted to give back to community and start one locally. She recruited her family for help.

“I go to the show every year and they kept calling out names for the door prize and it was in our area,” Watts-Gardner said. “I said to my husband that it seemed like everyone from our area was there shopping.”

The first Bodacious Bazaar was in 2011. In the first three years the family donated more than $10,000 to nonprofits, according to Watts-Gardner.

“That’s pretty good for one, single family,” Watts-Gardner said. “I’ve instilled in my children that you get back what you put out and this is our community and we’re trying to help our community out.”

Together, the Gardner family handles everything from set up, booking and partnerships with the non-profits. Her husband and son help with loading and unloading equipment. Her daughter is in charge of the non-profits.

Watts-Gardner’s belief “you get what you put out” has positively returned to her. The community has poured their support back into the bazaar each year. It has been recognized by the House of Delegates, Coastal Virginia Magazine and received a 2015 Best of Hampton Award.

“Public has been so receptive. They love us,” Watts-Gardner said. “I think we always look forward and it has done a lot for the community.”

Watts-Gardner and her husband Larry Gardner even her grandchildren are beginning to get involved by drawing their own versions booth floor plans.

“We’re around the age of retirement and we this is something we want to be our family legacy,” Gardner said. “When we’re too old, they can take over.”

The twice annual event also runs a seven-city blood drive that started Monday. Those who give blood at Red Cross sites get a free entry coupon to all three days of the show. The event collected 445 units of blood in 2016.

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