Holiday Galleria sparkles in 10th year

When the first Holiday Galleria shopping event was put on in Century II’s Exhibition Hall in 2004, it attracted about 4,000 shoppers, and the Junior League of Wichita considered it a big success.

Now, as organizers prepare to open their 10th Holiday Galleria, they’ve more than doubled that success. They’ve moved into the much larger Expo Hall, and during the event’s run this weekend, they hope to attract 10,000 people.

“That first year was kind of a trial, but by the second year, fireworks went off and we got it and we knew what we had to do to get better,” said Emily Thengvall, Wichita’s Junior League president. “It’s been wildly successful and keeps getting more successful every year.”

Over the event’s run, it has raised $930,000. Organizers hope to break the $1 million mark this year. Money raised at the event goes toward Junior League community projects. This year, the organization is focused on fighting child abuse.

Holiday Galleria, which opens Thursday with a preview party, continues Friday through Sunday and will feature more than 120 vendors selling jewelry, clothing, home decor items, food items and more.

It’ll also include what’s become a signature part of the event – a Friday-night Girls Night Out party. It will last from 5 to 9 p.m. and will feature shopping, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and margaritas, an appearance by Lunchbox and Eddie from the Bobby Bones radio show, and free goodie bags for the first 250 people through the door. Women line up for hours before the show opens to try to get the bags, Thengvall said. Admission to the Girls Night Out party is $20 at the door.

Organizers have added some new events this year. On Saturday morning, Paint the Towne is leading an event called Color the Community, which will give participants instruction and supplies needed to create their own paintings. The painters can keep their masterpieces or donate them to be displayed at a local non-profit organization. The painting sessions are at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., and each session costs $30.

Then, on Sunday morning, a Pancake Pep Rally with Chris Cakes will feature pancakes, sausage, orange juice and a meet-and-greet with area sports mascots. It last from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is $15 for adults and $5 for children.

Shopping hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Holiday Galleria has become a tradition for many women, who start their holiday shopping each year by perusing the many booths, Thengvall said.

“It’s not just a craft fair,” she said. “In fact, it’s not crafty at all. It’s an event. There are really neat items there, and you are shopping for a cause.”