With a giant polar bear and her two cubs looking on, dozens of volunteers scaled ladders to hang giant snow flakes and garland ahead of Thursday evening’s public opening of the Junior League’s 42nd Annual ‘A Christmas Fair.’
The annual fair is the Junior League of El Paso’s (JLEP) primary fundraising event. According to Keithley Stanley, the fair’s 2015 chair, “It is organized, built, staged and cleaned up solely by trained volunteers, which allows the JLEP to put every dollar raised back into the community.”
This year’s fair, dubbed ‘Sparkle and Shine…it’s Holiday Time,‘ will again be held at the Convention Center in Downtown, Friday, November 6 through Sunday, November 8. As we made our way through the sprawling convention center floor, Ms. Stanley shared exactly what it takes to put on the event.
Stanley said more than 150 merchants from all over the country would be on hand, as well as four Airstream (trailers) converted into mobile stores, seven mobile carts and two stages would provide entertainment for all who attend.
“There are 15 local entertainers who will be here during the entire event…bands and even a group from Juarez – Esperanza Azteca – featuring hundreds of children performing thanks to donated instruments,” Stanley added.
As countless vendors set up their wares and workers busied themselves arranging carts and simulated street lights, Stanley led us to the center of the event, where Santa would be stationed, right next to towering Christmas trees and a custom-made sleigh.
“Everyone here, from the decorators to those who helped build the sleigh are volunteers – some spending more than 12 hours helping to put this all together,” Stanley said, “and the best thing about the entire fair is all the money raised stays right here in the community, and goes right back out to help organizations the JL supports.”
Those organizations span the continuum of groups from Midnight Basketball to Gigi’s Playhouse to the Ronald McDonald House.
“The fantastic thing about this and our other fundraisers, is that by February, all the money is allocated to those groups we support…and everyone who attends – in turn – is supporting those organizations,” Stanley added.
In addition to the towering Christmas trees, workers are planning to use nearly 3400 square feet of motion picture-quality snow at the convention center to enhance the holiday feeling.
Stanley smiled and said, “I doubt we’ll see anywhere close to that much snow this early in the season here in El Paso, but we’ll have some for our guest starting Friday.”
Those guest will see both the snow and the trees when they first enter the convention center, as well as an authentic London taxi.
During fair hours, attendees can enter one of several raffles for a chances to win prizes from Susan Eisen Fine Jewlery & Watches, Sun Travel or the El Paso Chihuahuas. And no trip to the Christmas Fair would be complete unless there was an opportunity for kids to have their picture taken with Santa.
Officials say the event’s popularity has grown over the years and more than 15,000 are expected to attend this year. But organizers say it’s now much more than that.
“I think it has grown beyond the original intent,” Stanley said, “it’s become a generational tradition…we have families who pay for their ticket just to come in and their annual family ornament…it’s truly a part of El Paso and that’s exactly what we at the Junior League are as well.”
Below are the scheduled time and ticket prices for the individual events. To sign up for a chance to win tickets click HERE
A Christmas Fair Hours
Friday, Nov. 6th: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 7th: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 8th: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
$10 for Adults
$9 for Children (6-12 years)
Seniors (60+ years) & Military
A Preview Party with The Spazmatics!
Thursday, November 5th: 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
$40 in advance / $50 at the door
A Christmas Fair kicks off with a fun night out! Enjoy exclusive shopping, a silent auction, appetizers and drinks! Plus from Austin, TX, rock out to the ultimate 80’s wave band, the famous Spazmatics! A Preview Party sponsored by Sure Care. It’s going to be totally tubular dude!
Sweets with Santa in Peppermint’s Cove!
Saturday, November 7th: 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
$30 for 1 adult & 1 child, $20 for each additional child / $40 at the door
Rise and shine with us at A Christmas Fair! This morning adventure will feature an assortment of delectable goodies, pictures & story time with Santa, crafts and a candy bar!
Story Time with Santa
Saturday, November 7th 12:00 p.m. & 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 8th 12:00 p.m. & 3:00 p.m.
Children will enjoy complementary milk and cookies while listening to Santa read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Generously sponsored by Price’s Creameries.
Photos with Santa
Friday, November 6th 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 7th 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 8th 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Pictures with Santa will allow you to capture a special moment between you young ones & the Big Guy! Taken by Diane Sierra Photography. Prices: $25 individual child / $40 family. 3 digital images on a disk or download.
Tickets will be sold at A Christmas Fair and are available now at the Junior League of El Paso, Inc., located on 520 Thunderbird Drive, El Paso, TX 79912. Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For more information, visit www.jlep.org or contact us at 915-584-3511.