Mistletoe Market, which starts Friday, has grown from a modest start of 12 vendors at Perry Country Club to this year being held in the largest vending area at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter.
More than 200 shops and vendors will converge in the 65,000-square-foot Miller-Murphy-Howard Building for the markets three-day run.
It is larger than ever, said Lisa Hays, who started the event with two neighbors in 2005.
Last year, the market raised about $40,000 for area organizations through the Balvaunuca Club of Perry, a womens service league.
Hays expects 9,000 visitors to the market this year. Last years attendance was about 7,000.
A $5 ticket, which can be purchased at the door, includes all three days.
Special guests will be James T. Farmer III, author of A Time to Plant; former University of Georgia coach Vince Dooley; Myron Mixon, star of TLCs BBQ Pitmasters television show and author of Smokin; Mark Ballard, author and artist; Ed Grisamore, columnist and author; and Jackie K. Cooper, author of several books including The Sunrise Remembers.
Mixon is the leader of the winningest team in competitive barbecue, which has led him to three world championships and more than 180 grand championships. He will be giving tips on the basics, from choosing the right wood to getting the best smoker or grill, as well as the perfect ways to cook up hog, ribs, brisket and chicken.
Farmer lives in Kathleen and has regular contributions to Southern Living magazine. He also just finished filming a television episode with chef Paula Deen.
Hays hopes to draw men out to the market to see Dooley and Mixon.
Were trying to appeal to the entire family, she said.
There will be special performances by local singers and groups throughout the weekend.
Vendors from as close as Perry and as far away as Winter Springs, Fla., will have items such as pottery and crafts for sale.
There are at least a dozen vendors new to the market this year.
One of those is a specialty dog collar and leash store called A Hot Dog on a Leash from Snellgrove. The store offers handmade collars, leashes and matching bags for dogs and their owners.
Delta Kappa Gamma, a Houston County literacy organization, will have a Christmas story time booth where parents can let their children hear stories read by local and retired teachers.
The market closes Sunday at 5 p.m.
For times of performances or more information, visit www.mistletoe-market.com.