Valdosta Daily Times

November 18, 2012

Merry Marketplace offers gifts, fun

Continues this afternoon

Jason Schaefer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The halls were decked, the stockings hung, the tables lined with gifts and baskets filled with food. Shoppers dressed in gay apparel perused the wall-to-wall merchandise with merry smiles, and children shared their Christmas wishes with Santa Claus.

‘Tis the season, as the Valdosta Junior Service League’s 39th Annual Merry Marketplace held at the James H. Rainwater Conference Center would have us believe, and the fun’s not over yet.

The doors opened from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday night for opening ceremonies, including a live band, then started again at 10 a.m. Saturday to kick off the shopping extravaganza. The doors closed at 5 p.m., but the fun will continue today from noon until 5 p.m.

The event that began as a little arts and crafts show has grown into a huge annual tradition, according to co-chair Jennifer Steedley. In four hours, the event saw about 1,400 people Saturday, Steedley said.

“We’ve got a variety of vendors from six different

 states, and things that appeal to men, women and children,” Steedley said. “You can find anything from a few dollars to $350.”

The 90 vendors offered what seemed like everything — food, candy, clothing, jewelry, games, books, toys, photographs, paintings, handmade goods, and more. Some of the more popular booths included the homemade candied giant Fuji apples from Sweet Acre Farms, delectables from South Georgia Pecan and health juices from D’Lifeful, Steedley said.

Kids had a great time at the Children’s Character Breakfast from 9 to 10 a.m., where they met famous characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Elmo, Buzz Lightyear, Spider-Man and others, and got their faces painted.

The price to enter the extravaganza was $5 for adults and $1 for children, but those with military families may enter for free today with a military ID, Steedley said.