The Garden City Telegram’s first Ho Ho Holiday Expo, a pre-holiday fair of Kansan-owned businesses, filled the American Legion Hall Thursday night with 29 vendors and more than 100 shoppers.

“It’s twice the size I thought it would be, so I’m very happy. I’m looking forward to next year,” said DJ Richmeier, multimedia sales manager at The Telegram and one of the organizers of the event.

Besides being a quick center for Christmas shopping, the event served food, offered a “Selfies with Santa” station, handed out gift bags for visitors and collected drawings for door prizes supplied by a mix of vendors. Organizers also held a food and supply drive for Emmaus House and the Finney County Humane Society.

Emmaus House was spreading awareness about ways to donate, both normally and for the food pantry and homeless shelter’s upcoming Christmas food boxes, plus current fundraising initiatives with Papa John’s and Dillons, said Glenda Hopkins, a member of the Emmaus House board of directors.

“Awareness is what we want, and hopefully donations…” Hopkins said.

The vendors were a smorgasbord of Garden City locals and visitors from near and far, both storefronts, start-ups and consultants, including Gravity Wellness Spa, Berta’s Flowers and Festivities, Imprint Designs, Christopher Cruz Designs, SageHouse Soaps, Whiskey and Wood, Real Time Pain Relief, Lauren’s Treat,, Origami Owl, Faith and Denim, Horton Show Pigs, Powers Custom Cups, The Quirky Quaker, Curb Appeal Boutique, Kelley’s Festival Foods, Jennifer’s Fabulous Fiesta through Younique, Sparkle Thru the Mud through Color Street, Celyn’s Candle Addiction through PartyLite and local consultants from Vantel Pearls, Lip Sense, Clever Container, Norwex, ZYIA Active, Paparazzi, Young Living Essential Oils, Pink Zebra, Usborne Books and Avon.

Christmas twinkled over lines of handmade soaps, lotions, totes, stockings, shorts, wooden decorations and stuffed animals. On one end of the hall sat a stack of popcorn, on the other, pink, spoonfed treats. A line of technicolor cups sported family business Powers Custom Cups.

At Rachel Hodson’s The Quirky Quaker table, which was covered with hand crocheted hats and stuffed animals, kids ran up excited, instantly connecting, she said.

Her business, like Mitzi Blankenship’s Whiskey and Wood and Pamela Bennett’s Faith and Denim, were the fairly recent results of years and years of crafty, beloved hobbies, they said.

Caitlyn Horton, three years out of college, filled orders for her western Kansas business Horton Show Pigs, pulling pork out of her truck as needed. Lauren Seachris, 13, manned Lauren’s Treat — her family affair business that sold dog treats, toys and accessories to raise money to build houses in Nicaragua.

The fair, Richmeier said, was an opportunity to shop small.

Business owners were both newcomers and veterans to the fair scene.

Blankenship and Bennett were dipping their toes into the shop fair scene, they said, the expo being Bennett’s second and Blankenship’s first. It was the sixth for Shaelee Smith of Clever Containers, her seventh coming up this weekend.

“It’s very well organized, easy to get in … This is one of my first (fairs) down in Garden. I’m very impressed with how it’s organized and laid out and everything,” Smith said.

 

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.