Christmas + Gift Show Celebrates 40 Years of Festive Cheer


Pennsylvania Christmas + Gift Show Celebrates 40 Years of Christmas Cheer

The Pennsylvania Christmas + Gift Show returns to the Farm Show once again this year, drawing in shoppers who make the annual pilgrimage in search of the perfect gift for those who seem to have it all. This is the 40th
anniversary of the Yuletide event which will be held from November 29-December 3.

The show, which spans six acres and attracts more than 30,000 visitors, was sold last summer to Marketplace Events, which touts more than 77 consumer shows across the country. “When the company purchased the show from Pattie and Dick Mahoney in July of last year it was already underway in a sense in that it was 80 percent sold, so this year is our first opportunity to put our mark on it,” said Show Manager Jenna Naffin.

More than 600 vendors will showcase an array of unique gifts, décor, seasonal items, gourmet food, apparel, toys, treats and more, all on one floor. What’s changed this year is a new, more streamlined floor plan which will encompass three exhibition halls: Giant Expo Hall, Equine Arena and North Hall.

This year will also feature a new celebrity guest. Karolyn Grimes, otherwise known as Zuzu Bailey from the classic Christmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” will be at the show each day selling her cookbook and Christmas bells.

Also new for children is a Christmas Lego Village constructed with thousands of LEGO pieces, along with a redesigned Santaland which features a custom-built sleigh where kids can take pictures with old Saint Nick.

Another change, implemented just last year, is a coat-and-package check for a suggested $3 donation. “It’s run by Dauphin County Systems of Care Community Partners and the funds benefit their Holiday Celebration in December,” said Naffin.

Also returning this year is the K-9 Rescue of Central PA. “Last year it went wonderfully for the all-volunteer shelter,” said Naffin, explaining that on Saturdays, the four-legged friends will take to the entertainment stage for a doggy fashion show, which will include public outreach on volunteering and adopting, according to Naffin. “It gives the dogs the opportunity to network and meet people in the community,” she said.

To encourage people to stay longer at the show, new shopper relaxation lounges will be installed at the Giant Expo Hall & Equine Arena. And for those who work up an appetite while shopping, the buffet by C&J Catering returns to the second floor. “This is the third year for the buffet located in the banquet hall, which features carving stations, a soup and salad bar and signature cocktails like The Grinch and Mrs. Claus and is a nice opportunity for people to bond while they’re shopping,” said Naffin, adding that bus groups often visit and that the buffet allows them to make a day of it.

A special event titled “Girls Night Out,” will take place on Friday, December 1 from 4-7 p.m. and will feature discounted admission, along with discounted signature cocktails, a live DJ, door prizes and DIY workshops. “It’s a cool way to get out with your friends and have a fun experience with the group,” said Naffin.

Also, on tap for all three days will be “Merry Money Drawings.” “Guests can register for the chance to win $100 in Merry Money gift cards to use at any one vendor at the show,” said Naffin.

Christmas Tree Lane, a perennial favorite, can be viewed in the Cameron Street Lobby where visitors can vote for their favorite tree and be entered to win a four-pack of tickets to next year’s show.

Also returning is the Model Train Display by the Reading Company Technical and Historical Society. The 165-foot exhibit features three-to-five sets of train running at any given time.

Chef Tim Jutzi from Etters will be returning again this year to market his sweet balsamic vinaigrette. Jutzi knew he was onto something in 1996 when he made a salad for a health-conscious, retired Colonel in Arlington, Virginia and it was a huge success. Jutzi returned to his home to replicate the salad that he made on the fly and in 2008, he and his wife Sabrina began bottling the dressing. Jutzi said it’s his 12th year for the show and that he will continue to be in attendance handing out panzanella salads toped with the popular vinaigrette. Jutzi reports that each year he hands out about 5,000 samples and sells between 1,600-1,700 bottles of dressing.

Jutzi said that the show is becoming more of an all-day experience. “I was happy to learn about the new shopper relaxation lounges where people can relax, rest and re-charge. What a great way to keep people there,” he said.

Naffin said Marketplace Events is hoping that the new changes, coupled with the old standbys will result in record turnout this year. “We’re really looking forward to it,” she said.

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