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Bayou Bebes

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Special Doll Exhibit on Civil-War Era on display recently at the BREC ballroom.  (Credit: Bayou Bebes) Special Doll Exhibit on Civil-War Era on display recently at the BREC ballroom. (Credit: Bayou Bebes)

By Baileigh Rebowe | LSU Student

Many women bond over manicures, makeup, shopping, or shoes. The women of Bayou Bebes of Baton Rouge are connected by their love and passion of dolls.

Bayou Bebes has been in existence for 30 years and is an affiliation of United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC). The non-profit organization is devoted to educating people in this region on doll collecting and holds different events during the year to that end. Money generated is donated to various community projects.

When it comes to collecting -- 1950s dolls, cloth dolls, dolls with hats, bridal dolls and Victorian dolls -- Bayou Bebes doesn't discriminate.

"Few artifacts reflect our history as accurately as do dolls," says UFDC president Ada Diedrich. " From food to fashion, dolls and their accessories provide a fascinating window to the past and provide a record for the future,"

Recently, the club hosted a CivilWar-era exhibit. The club regularly participates in "Doll Identification Days" at Louisiana public libraries where Bebes members, like the TV show "Antique Roadshow, act as experts and identify dolls brought in by residents.

The club's biggest event is the biennial show and sale attracting vendors from across the United States to view and buy dolls. Money generated from the events go to venues such as nursing homes, libraries and other community service organizations.

Club secretary Cynthia Oregeron said the women are interested in all things dolls. She has a personal collection of more than 400 dolls in Ponchatoula that she regularly puts into shows and exhibits. Her collection dates back to the 1700s.

"My passion for dolls started at a young age. I wanted to keep my dolls pretty so I never played with them and didn't let anyone else play either."

She not only has collected dolls for almost 40 years, she is also a doll artist, appraiser and producer of porcelain dolls.

Bayou Bebes works together with Acadiana Babes in Lafayette and the Northshore Doll Club in Slidell to ensure an event happens monthly.

"Louisiana is a wonderful place for doll collectors to visit and mingle," said Suzanne Mouch, president of Bayou Bebes. "In addition to hosting the UFDC convention this summer in New Orleans, we have the Enchanted Mansion in Baton Rouge, the Vargas collection in the LSU Rural Life Museum, and the Lois Lofton Collection in De Ridder. We also have a lot of good shopping and knowledgeable dealers."

The UFDC convention, "A Jambalaya Jubilee" held in late July, will feature more than 10 doll artists and costumers as speakers, doll authors, as well as extensive exhibits, shows and collections.

Members of Bayou Bebes are preparing for the doll show next year in Baton Rouge. The organization meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month at 6:30 pm at the BREC ballroom facility on Independence Boulevard. For more information, visit www.angelfire.com/la2/bayoubebes/.

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