If you’ve spent any amount of time around children, you know that one of their most charming traits is having a creative and active imagination. They can dream up complex stories from scratch, create imaginary worlds with the help of random objects laying about the house, and find new and inventive ways to have fun with even the most limited of resources. After all, kids don’t have jobs and don’t drive, so they have to make do with what they’ve got! And make do with what we’ve got is exactly what the kids in my neighborhood and I did when we put together our first summer bazaar many years ago.
I’m not sure if I realized it at the time, but I was a very lucky kid. My parents weren’t overly-strict, my neighborhood was safe, and I had plenty of kids to play with in surrounding houses. As such, I had the freedom to float through my summer days, riding my bike here, swimming in a pool there, and just generally enjoying myself in a way that I would love to relive for a few days as an adult! My neighbor friends and I would often gather on my front porch as ours was the biggest, and we would play classic kids games like Jacks and Truth or Dare. But just as all kids do, we would also get bored. And when we got bored, we got creative! In fact, it was this boredom that brought about the first of many backyard bazaars.
I’m not sure if bazaars are the same all over the country, so I’ll clarify as to what bazaars are in the Blair Candy neck of the woods! A bazaar is a local outdoor event, typically held in the summer, that is hosted by a Church or non-profit organization. The event is designed to bring the community together for some fun while raising money for the Church or non-profit. Bazaar highlights include fair-style foods, like snow cones and pierogies, live music from local musicians, craft stands with unique offerings, and importantly…games! These games are typically very cheap, about a quarter per play, with prizes ranging from candy to handcrafted quilts. In many cases, everyone wins at least something small, while one person takes something a bit bigger. That something small is almost always candy – Dum Dums and Tootsie Frooties are popular – so there’s no crying kids (or adults!) walking away empty-handed.
The beauty of bazaars is that they are an awesomely-affordable good time, and the smaller bazaars can be just as fun as the larger ones. With this in mind, the neighborhood kids and I decided to try our hand at creating a bazaar just for us, and it was nearly-free and a whole lot of fun. Want to try it with your kids? There’s no time like the long 4th of July Weekend! The ideas outlined below were those we used in our backyard bazaars years ago, but the rules are only limited by your own imagination. Tip: Ask your kids for their ideas, too. They’ll definitely have good ones!
Backyard Bazaar Ideas
Plastic Kiddie Pool – Almost everyone has one of those tiny blue kiddie pools or knows someone who does. But you may not have ever used it for a ring toss! For our backyard bazaar, we filled the pool about 1/3 of the way with water and set some rubber ducks to float. We then found some weighted plastic rings (these were a pool toy for a larger pool) and those became the tossing rings. The goal was to get as many rings as possible around the floating rubber ducks! This game can easily be modified with whatever you’ve got on hand, and is a fun game for adults as well.
Set Up Some Tunes – If your children have instruments of their own, even if they are of the plastic toy variety, book them for your backyard bazaar! They’re sure to love being center stage as they perform whatever songs they like best. And don’t forget to pay them for the gig. Most kids will be willing to work for peanuts, but Bubble Gum Candy Coins make the deal seem more real!
Find Your Prizes – This part is not only fun, but it can help you cut down on some clutter, too. While it’s a good idea to stock up on some penny candy for the little prizes, you can ‘go shopping’ for the other prizes right at home…and we aren’t talking about shopping online! As I mentioned above, as kids we had to work with what we had. So we each went to our respective homes and looked around for trinkets and little whatnots we no longer wanted or needed, such as stuffed animals won in crane machines and puzzles we had already put together a dozen times. Once we had approval from our parents to offer these items up into the prize pool, we set out to play games to win them. These included the Ring Toss mentioned above, as well as simpler games, like Hot Potato. After hours of fun, we all got to walk away with someone else’s unwanted toys that were now our treasures!
Wishing you all a Safe and Happy 4th of July full of fireworks, fun, and perhaps something a bit bazaar!