Jackson — Clocks of about 35,000 holiday shoppers are counting down to Thursday when the doors of Mistletoe Marketplace open.
Those looking for perfect seasonal presents will enter what seems to be a fantasyland of gift items, from one end of the Mississippi Trademart to the other, only to find that the booths of 172 vendors from 22 states are, in fact, real.
Jackson’s Junior League has been bringing this event to the public for 24 years, while using the funds generated from the three-day market to improve the lives of children and youth in the metropolitan area.
Nina Carmody, Mistletoe chairman, said that apart from the general shopping opportunities Thursday through Saturday, there will be several special activities for people to enjoy, including the first-ever Artists’ Café.
“In the Trademart foyer, we’ll have Jackson area artists painting and displaying their works, with coffee and dessert available. There will be beautiful and reasonably priced pieces for no more than $400,” Carmody said.
And, aromas from the Market at Mistletoe, another unique happening, will entice hungry shoppers to stop by, rest and eat a bite of lunch or dinner with restaurateurs from Beagle Bagel, Penn’s, Chimneyville Smokehouse and Newk’s.
Those who want the earliest glimpse of Mistletoe’s offerings, and of the Christmas holiday’s hottest gifts, will get a first-hand look with a ticket to the Preview Gala on Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Music by the Magnolia String Quartet and the Tip Tops will echo to the roof as Bravo!/Broadstreet Catering offers gourmet delicacies.
Carmody said she is glad Thursday’s Mistletoe Morning is sold out because this means that people are taking seriously the event’s theme of “A Time to Give.”
“Those who support the Junior League’s projects understand that this is everybody’s time to give,” she said, adding that general shopping will begin at 11 a.m., immediately following this ticketed occasion, and remain open until 9 p.m. Other general shopping opportunities are Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
As the clock strikes 5 on Thursday, many businesses and companies will close precisely on the hour so employees can enjoy the popular Business-A-Fare, back again this year from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“It’s the perfect gathering place for business people or corporate leaders, with complimentary jazz as an added bonus,” she said.
Another special activity happens bright and early on Friday, when Marketplace Brunch will put guests on the shopping scene at 8 a.m., and again food and music will tempt the senses.
Also teasing the palate will be 20 food vendors in the general shopping area, along with 21 children’s merchants and 19 jewelry and accessories purveyors. Art, garden, home interior, and men’s and women’s apparel booths will entice shoppers as well.
A Ford Freestyle SUV and a Rolex watch will be raffled for $5 per chance, with the drawing scheduled for Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
While Mistletoe will conclude that day at 5 p.m., the 18 community projects that reap the benefits of this now-infamous shopping experience continue year-round.
Lesley Morton, Junior League projects chairman, said she enjoys being on the giving end of an organization, which also has a Children’s Museum in the works.
“This is currently our signature project, and we have a long-term commitment to it. I’ve been fortunate to watch this go from the planning stages into the development phase,” Morton said of the $1 million that has already been designated by the League.
Besides reaping the benefits of Mistletoe profits, young people in Jackson and the surrounding area are aided by the League’s two additional fund-development endeavors, the Bargain Boutique resale shop and Junior League Publications — better known as the “Southern Sideboards” cookbook, now in its 17th printing.
Community focus areas for the League are social services, arts and education and health. Super Troopers, Jackson Public Schools Summer Camp and Feed-A-Family are a few of the programs supported.
Advance tickets for Mistletoe Marketplace are available by calling 1-888-324-0027, and they will also be sold at the door.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Harriet S. Vickers at email@example.com.