This weekend’s Holiday Living Show ushered in the unofficial start to the Christmas shopping season, carrying on a Halifax County tradition that started more than 30 years ago.
Shoppers poured into the Halifax County High School gymnasium Saturday and Sunday in search of one-of-a-kind gifts for their loved ones.
“The crowd coming through seemed to be pretty steady; I thought the show went really well,” said Pat Yancey, chairperson of the Holiday Living Show and member of the Business Women’s Association of Halifax County, which coordinates the show annually.
“The vendors seemed pleased and people were amazed by the variety of items that were available for Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers. A lot of the items were homemade,” Yancey added. “We also had several new vendors this year, and I was pleased by that.”
The interaction between shoppers and vendors seemed to be the favorite part of the show for those in attendance, after a year’s hiatus because of COVID-19.
“I love seeing and meeting nice people at the show,” said Virginia Barksdale, a local vendor who sold Scentsy products at the show. “It’s nice seeing everybody out, meeting new people and seeing repeat customers.”
Barksdale participates as a vendor in other arts and crafts shows in the region, but the South Boston resident says the Holiday Living Show is her favorite because it gives her the opportunity to see “hometown faces.”
Angela Brammer and her daughter Sarah Cassada, of Clover, browsed Barksdale’s Scentsy offerings as well as the offerings of other vendors at Saturday’s show. Cassada, an artist who paints and makes scrunchies, said she enjoys looking at the work of fellow artisans.
“The creativity of the people here is amazing,” Brammer said, as she showed off a hand-knitted quilt she had purchased from one of the show’s vendors. She added the Holiday Living Show provided a good opportunity to “get out of the house.”
Like Barksdale, Barbara Durbin of Danville said the Holiday Living Show is her favorite show of all the shows she attends as a vendor. Durbin sells her famous homemade pound cakes, using her husband Mike’s mother’s special recipe, at the Holiday Living Show each year.
“This is our favorite event. We’ve made a lot of friends down here. And the director and her team are just wonderful to work with,” Durbin shared. She added one person drove down to the Holiday Living Show from Lynchburg to purchase her pound cakes.
It took Durbin three days to bake the 260-pound cakes in 25 different flavors from butter pecan to pineapple for the Holiday Living Show. Within the first three hours of the show, the majority of the cakes had been sold.
Barbara Huff, a vendor from Oxford, North Carolina, also said she enjoys coming to the Holiday Living Show year after year.
“I see a lot of customers I had years before and I enjoy that,” Huff said at Saturday’s show. “You see old friends and make new friends.”
At the show, Huff sold a variety of repurposed handcrafted items, using her skill as an artisan in making “old things new.”
Another vendor at the show, Elsa Gailor of Chase City, not only enjoyed selling her vintage and antique jewelry at the show, but she also liked viewing the offerings of the other vendors.
“I just love the fact that there’s such a variety of vendors, from handmade goods to paintings and handcrafted items. It satisfies everybody,” Gailor expressed.
Gailor said she also likes the fact that fundraisers are incorporated into the show, a reminder that the holiday season is “not just about presents, it’s about helping others.”
Proceeds from the Holiday Living Show go toward college scholarships for local students, both recent high school graduates and older adults choosing to continue their education.
Yancey said the show generates an average of $8,000 to $10,000 each year for scholarships for local students. She anticipates the show’s proceeds will be slightly down this year because of the smaller number of vendors – 69 compared to the usual 100 vendors at the show, a decrease that Yancey attributes to COVID-19.