With longer hours and more booths than ever, the Down East Holiday Show is set to fill the Greenville Convention Center with four days of Christmas joy.
Vendors and shoppers from near and far will ring in the shopping season — 54 days and counting as of Tuesday — during the popular event, held annually the first full weekend of November to raise funds for the Pitt Community College Foundation. Last year’s record-setting show attracted more than 10,000 visitors and filled the foundation’s stockings with more than $100,000 to fund student scholarships and educational activities at PCC.
Events specialist Erin Greenleaf said more than 190 vendors, including 40-plus newcomers, will set up shop on the convention center’s main floor and decking the halls wrapping around it. The combination of sights, sounds, smells and crowds means just one thing.
“It’s time to start shopping,” Greenleaf said.
Vendors from Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and throughout North Carolina arrive Wednesday for a four-day run that begins with an adults-only (18 and older) session on Thursday from 5-9 p.m. Friday’s session, which begins at 10 a.m., has been extended to 9 p.m. this year.
“We felt that on Fridays we weren’t giving people enough time to leave work and shop,” Greenleaf said. “Now the show’s so big, you need about three hours to get through.”
Several factors have contributed to the holiday show’s growth. The early November date cashes in on those eager to start crossing off their Christmas lists and beats other regional shows to the punch.
The convention center’s expansion in 2015 also opened up space for additional vendors.
”We’re still trying to filter more of the guests through there,” Greenleaf said. “Some feel they don’t see all the traffic, but I believe they do now. There’s restrooms over there, there’s a ticket window over there, so that expansion has been great for us.”
The additional booths will not result in tighter quarters, Greenleaf said. With some vendors choosing smaller booths, there actually may be more “elbow room” for customer interaction and exhibition of hand-crafted items, she said.
Santa will be on site for a visit with children and photos on Friday from 4-6 p.m., Saturday from 2-5 p.m. and Sunday from 2-4 p.m.
Among the new offerings is a cooking demonstration on Sunday and food trucks outside the convention center “so you can fill your bellies before you come shop,” Greenleaf said.
And shop is what the weekend is all about — as well as raising money for PCC students.
“Every admission is for PCC scholarships, and there is a great need to get a further education and get these people out in the workforce,” Greenleaf said. “It’s just a really good, happy feeling time, and everyone is coming to shop. No one is coming in a bad mood.”
Show Hours and Ticket Information
Thursday: 5-9 p.m. (adults only). Tickets $12 at the door or $10 online.
Friday: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Tickets $10 at the door or $8 online.
Saturday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tickets $10 at the door or $8 online.
Sunday: Noon-5 p.m. Tickets $10 at the door or $8 online.
No coupons or multiple day tickets available.
Children 10 years old and younger accompanied by an adult are admitted free.
Tickets may be purchased in advance at www.downeastholidayshow.com or at the door.