Mistletoe Market offers “shopping extravaganza,” helps charities

bpurser@macon.comNovember 23, 2013 

PERRY -- More than 8,000 shoppers came out for the Mistletoe Market last year at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter, with the event generating $45,000 for various charities, the event chairman says.

Already, more than 7,700 shoppers have come to this year’s event, based on combined totals for Friday and as of 3 p.m. Saturday, said chairman Lisa Hays.

“The Mistletoe Market is a big shopping extravaganza here in Perry,” said Hays, a member of the Balvaunuca Club of Perry, a service club for women, which sponsors the three-day event. All funds raised are donated to charity.

“We invented this event because we all wanted to go Christmas shopping together,” Hays said. “So, rather than get on a bus and ride around the Southeast together, we decided to invite all of our favorite stores to come to us so that we could shop under one roof.”

The last day for this year’s Mistletoe Market is from noon-5 p.m. Sunday, with Santa Claus expected from 1-4 p.m. Admission is $5, and children younger than 12 are admitted for free. The event is held at the Miller-Murphy-Howard Building. Parking is free.

“You can do all of your Christmas shopping under one roof, literally,” Hays said. “We have something for women, men, children -- toys, foods -- something for everybody on your list.”

The Mistletoe Market is held the weekend before Thanksgiving. This is its eighth year.

“Thanksgiving moves around, but we don’t. We just follow Thanksgiving,” Hays said.

The service club expects to offer the event again next year.

“We absolutely plan to do it next year because after last year’s event, we were able to give $45,000 back to different charities in our community and Middle Georgia,” Hayes said.

“There are so many people in need and so many organizations that do such good things for the people in our community, we’d like to continue doing that.”

The charities that receive funding are nominated by club members, Hays said. Suggestions are also take from people in the community who know of someone in need.

The idea for the Mistletoe Market grew from a possible ladies outing to the fundraiser for charities it is today.

Ten years ago, Hays and two of her neighbors wanted to organize an event for their neighborhood. The three rented the Perry Country Club, invited 16 vendors and didn’t charge admission.

The next year, her friends moved away. Hays joined the service club.

“It was large undertaking to move from the Perry Country Club to the agricenter,” Hays said. “But we felt like it would be a good enough fundraiser for us to give back to our community. The first year, we made $12,000 and were so proud to give that back.”

Ginger Jackson, a part-time worker at Petals, Flowers and More on Ingleside Avenue in Macon, joined the event for the first time this year.

“We’re selling mostly Christmas decorations,” Jackson said. “We do wreaths, we do swags for your mailbox, we have ornaments on the tree, really just anything silk-wise.”

Ellie Loudermilk, president of the Perry Area Historical Society, has made every Mistletoe Market.

The event is a way to generate revenue for the society’s museum by offering books, CDs, Christmas ornaments and trinkets for stocking stuffers for sale, Loudermilk said. The society also has a raffle for a quilt.

Heidi Hines and her daughter, 12-year-old Emily Hines, spent the morning at the market shopping for Christmas gifts.

The pair came away with caramel cakes, a planter for a Christmas gift for a loved one and knickknacks for smaller presents.

“We enjoyed our time here today,” Heidi Hines said.

Her daughter, a seventh-grader at Mossy Creek Middle School, said, “I thought it was fun being with my mom and shopping for Christmas.”

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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