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Jingling and mingling: ‘Holly Day Fair’ runs through Nov. 5

56th annual ‘one-stop holiday shopping’ event features 150 vendors; 25,000 visitors anticipated


This year’s Holly Day Fair, a Fayetteville family tradition that’s drawn generations of families eager to get an early start on Christmas shopping, runs through Sunday at the Crown Complex.

The 56th edition of the fair — hosted by the Junior League of Fayetteville — is billed as the largest holiday gift and craft show in eastern North Carolina. It features more than 150 vendors and is expected to draw 25,000 people seeking everything from stocking-stuffers to holiday-themed home décor during the course of its four-day run, which begins Thursday.

Juelle McDonald, who has been a part of the Junior League for almost 15 years and is serving as the exhibitor chairwoman, said the themed fair has evolved from its humble beginnings at St. John’s Episcopal Church where, more than 50 years ago, Holly Day Fair began as a homemade craft and bake sale.

“‘Jingle and Mingle’ is the theme this year, and we are excited to jingle and mingle with our community,” McDonald said.

Organizers say Holly Day Fair receives multiple generations of families wearing matching shirts as part of their annual pilgrimage. Some will begin Thursday with “Sip and Shop,” a ticketed event that includes breakfast and a commemorative gift in an exclusive party room outside of the show. Thursday morning also marks a special time for Super Shoppers, where a $15 ticket gets you early entry (9 a.m., three hours before regular admission) and prohibits strollers or carts, allowing for easier navigation while shopping.

All other shoppers who purchase general admission tickets at $10 can shop from noon until 8 p.m. Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Children 5 and under are admitted free.

Santa, variety of vendors

New and returning vendors include Duplin Winery, which has been exhibited at the fair for more than 30 years and historically occupies nearly an entire aisle in the food court with shoppers lining up to get their “jolly juice,” a sweet winter berry slushie. Other popular vendors include Old South Apparel with Southern Christmas-themed long-sleeved t-shirts and other clothing options; MC Creations and Toddlers & Teens Childrenswear, with racks of smocked bishop dresses and longalls for children and other nifty presents; and The Front Porch Southern Decor, which carries custom-crafted bows for doors, wreaths and mailboxes.

The fair is also one of the first opportunities for photos with Santa, another long-standing tradition.

“Our ‘Cookies with Clauses’ event was so popular that it is back again for year two,” McDonald said. “And Santa will be at our show as always on Sunday to greet your little ones.”

Cookies with Clauses is a hands-on event, giving children ages 5-11 a chance to interact with Santa and Mrs. Claus while decorating cookies. Photos will also be taken from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday; tickets are $10. Another photo session with Santa is set for noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday; photos are available for purchase through several packages offered.

Impact in the community

The Holly Day Fair is the primary fundraiser for the Junior League of Fayetteville. The national organization’s mission is to advance women’s leadership for meaningful community impact through volunteer action, collaboration and training. According to its website, the local chapter focuses on ensuring children 18 and under have the opportunity and services essential to their physical, intellectual, emotional and social well-being.

“The Holly Day Fair allows the Junior League of Fayetteville to be one of the greater community supporters in the city,” JLF President Tamara Bryant said. 

It gives a portion of Holly Day Fair proceeds back to the community through its Community Assistance Program and Community Research Project Development grants, scholarship fund and other community initiatives. Two main areas of focus for the Junior League of Fayetteville include preventing homelessness and addressing food insecurities that affect children and families in the community.   

"We thank our Holly Day Fair attendees and sponsors for their continued support," Bryant said. 

Over the years, the Holly Day Fair has helped the JLF raise more than $5 million to support its volunteer work.

Tickets are available at Jernigans in Dunn and Lumberton, The Pilgrim in Fayetteville, online at www.hollydayfair.com, at the Crown box office or at the door of the Holly Day Fair.

The Crown Complex is located at 1960 Coliseum Dr., Fayetteville.  

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Holly Day fair, Junior League of Fayetteville, Duplin Winery, christmas shopping