For nearly half a century the Junior League of Fayetteville has hosted the area’s biggest and best holiday shopping experience. A long-time tradition in Fayetteville, the Holly Day Fair marks the beginning of the Christmas season for many. This unique event is the largest holiday gift and craft show in Eastern Carolina with 200 vendors. It’s not unusual for the event to draw 20,000 plus shoppers over the course of its four-day run. This year, the Holly Day Fair is scheduled for Nov. 5-8.
One of the many things that makes the Holly Day Fair so special is the one-of-a-kind gifts and many handcrafted items available there. The Fayetteville Junior League works hard every year to find vendors that offer gifts that are hard to find anywhere else. From Christmas decorations to crafts, jewelry, clothes, toys, specialty foods household items and more, this is the place to go for that special gift for the discerning person on your shopping list.
Jami McLaughlin has worked on the Holly Day Fair committee for the past six years and loves ringing in the holiday season at such a lively event. “There are so many people that have been doing this a lot longer than I have. Once you start it is really hard to stop,” she said. “This is one of the few fundraisers that raises more than a quarter million dollars for kids in our community and it is through the efforts of a four-day festival. It is a lot of fun behind scenes, and all the money goes right back to the community.”
Jennifer Gasque is the chair of the Holly Day Fair and she is excited about how it is all coming together. “This is so exciting. For the past few years we have been right at the capacity for our venue. The Holly Day Fair just keeps growing. We host more than 20,000 visitors each year. We have close to 200 vendors this year that include some long-time favorites that offer anything from wind-up toys to kids clothes, monogrammed items as well as specialty item including antiques and more. And then we’ve got new local vendors. Blush Bridal will be there as well as Vibra’s. They have opened a location in Fayetteville.
Every year guests are treated to something extra special in the Junior League’s area of the Holly Day Fair. There will still be cookies and other goodies but this year, instead of wrapping paper and a wrapping station, visitors can look forward to Fayetteville themed ornaments. “Our theme is Christmas in the city. We had ornaments made that focus on the city of Fayetteville,” said Gasque. We will have ornaments that have photos of the Cameo Art House Theatre, the Market House, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum and more. We have six different pictures that we have of places in the city. We wanted to do something different. We get so much support from the community it just made sense to highlight some of the local landmarks.”
Sponsored by the Junior League, the Holly Day Fair offers more than a first rate kick-off to the holiday season. The funds raised from the Holly Day Fair benefit the local population in the form of Junior League of Fayetteville Community Assistance Program grants. The grants go to organizations and programs that support the Junior League of Fayetteville’s childhood mental health initiative. The 2014 Holly Day Fair raised more than $270,000, all of which went back into the community. “This year we have not earmarked any money yet. Our larger grants, the impact grants, are still accepting applications. They are available online at www.jlfay.org,” said Gasque. “If organizations want to visit our site, 100 percent of our funds do go back into the community.”
The Junior League of Fayetteville is an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism. The group has more than 400 members and partners with many agencies that focus on child health and welfare. The Junior League of Fayetteville is educational and charitable, teaching its members about volunteering and leadership while helping the community. The organization firmly believes that a strong future for the community means helping local children.
By working with organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs and Operation Inasmuch, the Junior League of Fayetteville touches many lives each year. Additionally, the group awards Community Assistance Program Grants to local organizations in Cumberland, Hoke, Lee, Bladen, Robeson and Sampson Counties that provide services related to the health and welfare of women and children.
The Holly Day Fair opens for Super Shopper ticketholders on Thursday, Nov. 5 at 9 a.m. From 9 a.m. to noon, there are no strollers permitted at the Holly Day Fair. Super shopper tickets are $14 and well worth the money for hardcore shoppers looking for the first pick of the merchandise without having to compete with crowded aisles. Regular shopping hours on Sept. 5 run from noon to 8 p.m. Regular tickets cost $9. Nov. 6-7, the Holly Day Fair hours are 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, the hours are 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets are available on line at www.hollydayfair.com. They will be available at the door at no extra cost.