Smokey Bear Association History
Founded in 1995
The Smokey Bear Association, formerly the Hot Foot Teddy Collectors Association (HFTCA) was founded in 1995 by retired fire captain specialist, Jim Van Meter of California.
As the new organization grew, it attracted some of the largest collectors of Smokey Bear memorabilia in the US. The members soon learned the value of making new contacts, networking, and sharing of knowledge to help complete their Smokey Bear collections and preserving the history of Smokey Bear collectibles.
The club ultimately evolved into a nationwide organization with hundreds of members who regularly buy, sell, and trade with each other which would never have been possible without the formation of the SBA.
Debuting on July 1, 1995, the first issue of the Hot Foot Teddy Collectors Association newsletter was an attempt at providing “a formal method of reaching lovers of Smokey Bear across the country.”
The club was first referred to as the SBCA: Smokey Bear Collectors Association. It was changed to the Hot Foot Teddy Collectors Association in the March 1997 News.
The Hot Foot Teddy Collectors Association logo, a bear cub with bandaged paws sitting beside a charred tree stump, was unveiled in 1997. This was drawn by the late member-artist Rudolph Wendelin, “caretaker” of Smokey Bear. That same year, the club hosted its first national convention, attracting over 80 members.
On August 16, 2012 by a majority vote of the membership, the name of the Association was changed to the Smokey Bear Association.
SBA Hall of Fame for Convention Perfect Attendance
This member has attended every convention from 1997 to 2018.