Panama City Beach – Billed as the Gulf Coast’s premier holiday shopping event, the annual Junior Service League Holly Fair typically draws about 10,000 customers, said fair co-chairwoman Lacey Obos. Obos and other JSL organizers think that, despite the struggling economy, this year’s 20th annual event will draw similar crowds with 30 additional merchants and the usual array of gift items and food.
Based on Friday morning’s early attendance numbers and the reaction from some merchants, they might be right. “The economy is not looking down today,” said SeaBreeze Winery owner Lynn Webb Friday, as she waited on multiple customers and poured wine samples Friday at the event, held at Boardwalk Beach Resort & Conference Center.
Though most of Holly Fair’s 75 merchants were area businesses, there were vendors from as far away as Nacogdoches, Texas, at Friday’s opening day.
Holly Fair continues at 9 a.m. today and runs through Sunday. Obos said proceeds from the event go toward a variety of Bay County charitable and community programs. “Obviously, charity is still needed, especially now,” Obos said.