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Basket bingo draws a crowd to Berkeley County Youth Fairgrounds

January 20, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Betty Kane already has dozens of Longaberger baskets at her Bunker Hill, W.Va., home, but she was eager to add to her collection Sunday.

Kane was one of an estimated 135 people who came to the Berkeley County Youth Fairgrounds Sunday afternoon to participate in a round of bingo games, for which the payoff was a treasured collection of Longaberger baskets.

The bingo games were a fund-raiser for the Berkeley County Youth Fair.

Longaberger baskets are highly sought after because of their quality and distinct design.

Some of the baskets are simple, while others are more elaborate with compartments and fabric added.

Some of the people who came to the games to play Sunday said they have hundreds of baskets in their collection.

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"I have over 40 in my kitchen," Kane said.

The handwoven Longaberger baskets are made by a family in Dresden, Ohio, and they are only sold in the United States.

Adding to the excitement over Sunday's games was the fact the baskets being offered were "retired," meaning they are no longer in production, said Charlotte Vickers, vice president of the youth fair.

When baskets are retired, their value increases, players said.

Depending on the type, Longaberger baskets can range in value from $29 to $200, Vickers said.

Players participated in 22 games for a chance at winning baskets like the Mother's Day basket set, the Sweetheart Be Mine basket set and the Bookkeeper and Santa's Helper baskets.

"With the baskets, you either like them or you don't," said Sherry Myers of Inwood, W.Va., whose collection also numbers in the dozens.

For about the last five years, organizers of the youth fair have held the basket bingo games to raise money for the fair, which is held during the first week of August. On Sunday, players paid $20 in advance or $25 at the door to participate.

Although Vickers said she would not know Sunday how much the day's games raised, the event usually raises between $2,000 and $3,000 for the youth fair.

About 25 businesses in the area bought the baskets for the games, Vickers said.

Vickers said fair organizers are planning to hold another Longaberger basket bingo fund-raiser on the last Sunday of October.

The Berkeley County Youth Fair gives youths who are members of 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Boys & Girls Clubs a chance to showcase projects on which they have worked.

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