Soldiers, civilians, retirees and their Family members gather at the Fort Jackson Solomon Center for the Pawesome Flea Market Sept. 24. The flea market incorporated the Do It In Pink Aerobathon for breast cancer awareness, Cars and Coffee, and the Blue Ribbon Bake Off competition. The event offered a variety of entertainment for the whole family and their pets. (Photo by Alexandra Shea)

Communities come together at Pawsome Flea Market

By Alexandra Shea, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation brought back the Pawsome Flea Market bigger and better than its inaugural year.

Hundreds of Fort Jackson Soldiers, civilians, retirees and their Families gathered at the Solomon Center Saturday morning for a series of events that included the Do It In Pink Aerobathon, Blue Ribbon Bake Off competition, flea market, Cars and Coffee, and the 512 Trolley Café.

The number of vendors for the flea market tripled since last year as did the number or participants that got their sweat on at the aerobathon. Pamela Long, fitness coordinator, plans the event each year to bring awareness to breast cancer. The program expanded this year to include a raffle for a series of fitness related prizes.

“We’ve partnered up with a couple of MWR organizations to include Do It In Pink,” said Penny Hadgeoff, Fort Jackson sports and fitness coordinator. “People are coming in to dance, play and do aerobics for two hours to show support to the pink ribbon thing.”

“I think this is a great idea and it brings more of the community together that might never interact at one of our events. Everyone seems to be having fun and that’s all you can ask for.”

For Mila Kirilova and her 3-year-old daughter Sofia, the aerobathon proved to be an event they could do as a team and walked away with an agility set during the raffle.

For Bru Ruff, a rescue-turned-therapy dog, and his human family, the flea market offered an opportunity to look through the variety of household, collectable, electronics and toys that were offered. Like a true member of the family, Bru shares his last name with his humans, the Ruff Family.

Bru wasn’t the only pup to attend the event, many families brought their dogs to get out and socialize with other humans and pets.

The 512 Trolly Café was up and brewing early morning to help fuel the many vendors as they set up and displayed their wares as well as the owners of several classic cars.

“This is a 1949 Chevy Styleline,” said Capt. Fredrick Johnson, Fort Jackson Police Department. “I’ve had her for about five months. I come to car shows when I’m not working. I got this weekend off.”

The highly polished metallic beige paint and chrome gleamed under the cloudless sky.

Johnson, along with others, were on hand for the announcement of the winners of the Blue Ribbon Bake Off. Kristin Roth, Solomon Center business manager, served up winning pieces of baked goods to patrons.

Cookies, cakes, pies and tarts were entered into the bake off. For Dayo Sheehan, her Caribbean-American fusion proved a win as she took home first place for her chocolate sugar cookies with lemon royal icing and second place for her pineapple pie.

“I found out about this on the MWR Facebook page,” she said. “I live off-post for the first-time in 10 years and my husband and I are trying to be more interactive with the on-post community and to help get my name out there.”

Sheehan grew up in Antigua, part of the Lesser Antilles island chain in the Caribbean. She brought her flair for Caribbean cuisine with her and has since turned it into a job that has the flexibility to travel when her and her husband move to different military instillations.

“I sell cookies and pies at the Blythewood Farmers Market almost every Wednesday,” she said. “As military spouses we have a hard time finding jobs. This is my way of finding a job.”

Additional winners of the bake off included a pear tart and apple cider cake.

Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Cesar Duran made an appearance to try a few of the bake-off winning items as well.

“The morning was great, beautiful. We are trying to continue to promote events like this so thank you to everyone who came out and supported,” Duran said. “Having all these events at one time really helped motivate people to come out and not stress about the family splitting up to see and do different things in different areas.”

“We are trying to promote all our events and our Partners in Excellence to help increase the quality of life to Soldiers, civilians and their Families,” Duran explained. “Stay posted, we have more events like Octoberfest, the Fall Festival, trick-or-treating, and more coming up.”

Fort Jackson Partners in Excellence, often referred to as PIEs, include Balfour Beatty, various tenant units across the installation, and the Columbia Recruiting Battalion.

The event wrapped up just after noon as the barista at the café yelled “last call.” Table, chairs and tents were broken down and loaded into trucks to return them to storage. Though the Pawesome Flea Market is wrap for this year, many of the organizers promised a return next year.

“We had a really great day. It started out a little slow but really picked up,” Roth said. “We will probably do another one.”