Hollydays is turning 29 this year and, as folks are wont to do when they see the big 3-0 looming on the horizon, those in charge are reassessing, revamping and rejuvenating the Junior League of Baton Rouge’s four-day holiday market.
“Everything has changed,” said chairwoman Katie Culotta Shoriak. “The layout’s changed, we have a new logo, the decorations are different, we’ve added 60 new booths and changed all the special events.
“We started from scratch and our president, Leslie Campbell, was so willing to work with us,” continued Shoriak.
“The River Center had just completed its remodel for the bowlers, so we felt like now was the perfect time for us to change, too,” said promotions chairwoman Elizabeth McKnight. “Everything is cohesive now.”
Even the date of the event has been changed. Long held the third week of October, this year’s Hollydays kicks off with “Blitzen Bash,” a less dressy but still festive preview gala Wednesday at the Baton Rouge River Center. Sponsored by Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry, the evening gets under way at 6:30 and includes the first shopping opportunity, food from some of the city’s best restaurants and caterers, a silent auction and entertainment by jazz trumpet player Jeremy Davenport, of New Orleans. Tickets are $65 per person, $120 per couple.
The decision to change the date wasn’t done on a whim. As McKnight explained, after doing some research and getting feedback from the out-of-town vendors, scheduling Hollydays the week before the Jackson, Miss., Junior League’s holiday market “makes a huge difference in who we’ve gotten to come to Baton Rouge.”
“This is the largest fundraiser in Louisiana,” said Shoriak. “We’re re-energizing the market; we’ve got to get our core shoppers back. A lot of the merchants are from out of town; we were very picky, but it’s our job to be picky. We stayed true to the percentage (of local and out-of-town merchants) even though we added 60 more.”
Those who are more early birds than night owls may want to opt for “Dashing Through the Aisles” Thursday morning . This exclusive shopping trip is from 9 a.m. until noon and features specials from each vendor. Strollers and wheeled carts are not allowed during this time. Tickets are $25 per person in advance, $27 at the door.
“We’re also introducing a tweens fashion show, ‘Prancer’s Runway,’” said Shoriak. “It’s in addition to our ‘Breakfast with Santa,’ for the little ones, which has a new name, ‘Reindeer Roundup.’”
“Prancer’s Runway” takes place at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 26 and features fashions from Tangerine, Little Beau Feet and Victoria’s Toy Station. Tickets are $25 per person. “Reindeer Roundup” is Oct. 27 and offers two seatings — 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Tickets are $35 for one child and one adult, $20 for each additional child. Tickets for all special events include same-day admission to the market.
Now, the big kids, aka over 21 crowd, haven’t been left out. The “Vino & Vixen” wine tasting, sponsored by Sullivan’s Steakhouse, takes place Oct. 26 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person.
The following day, Kyle Richards of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” will be on hand for a VIP meet-and-greet reception at 10:30 a.m., followed by a Q&A at noon. Tickets for this event range from $150 to $45. The VIP experience also includes a photo op, book signing and reserved priority seating for the Q&A session, where Richards will reveal some of the secrets in her book, “Life Is Not a Reality Show: Keeping It Real with the Housewife Who Does It All,” as well as childhood memories, family stories and tales from behind the scenes of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”
To make the shopping experience more enjoyable, CATS trolley shuttles will run between the State Capitol parking garage, the old Baton Rouge Bank parking lot on North Boulevard, the Hollywood Casino parking lot and the St. Louis Street entrance of the River Center.
The weekend before the Hollydays market takes place, there is a Hollydays event — the Hollydays Hustle. “It’s become its own little event,” said McKnight of the 1-mile Fun Run and 5K Race set for Saturday.
The Fun Run gets underway at 9 a.m. in the North Boulevard Town Square, followed by the 5K at 9:30 a.m. Sponsored by Raising Cane’s, entry fees are $15 for the Fun Run, $20 for the 5K in advance; $25 for each on race day. Children 5 and under are free. Race registration includes free entrance to Hollydays market on the day of your choice.