The largest fundraiser in the state takes place this month boasting a brand new look. Hollydays, the Junior League of Baton Rouge’s annual market, has long been a regional favorite. Four days of holiday shopping raises as much as $500,000 each year for community projects that affect 300,000 lives in the Capital Region. But for the hardworking women of the Junior League, that success is not enough. The 2012 Hollydays steering committee revamped a classic to attract new patrons and offer a fresh experience for those who have shopped here before.
“We want to bring the excitement back,” says Katie Shoriak, Hollydays chair. “We want to evolve with our shoppers, maintain key sponsorships and continue to generate interest.”
With this goal in mind, the Junior League reconceptualized everything from the shopping experience to the branding. This year, 42 merchants have been added, with more stall options available. The market’s layout is refigured to optimize flow and exposure. Jeremy Davenport brings the first headlining entertainment to the Blitzen Bash, Hollydays’ no-longer-formal preview party. And The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards will make Hollydays’ first celebrity appearance on Saturday. Breakfast and lunch with Santa, scratched for four years, is back by popular demand. Even the Hollydays logo—the same since the fundraiser began 29 years ago—has received a facelift.
“The event has been around for so long … it was time for it to be revamped and re-energized,” says Shoriak. “These revisions will hopefully help us to stand out and stand up above the rest so we can continue to give back to Baton Rouge at the same level that we have been.”
Junior League members anticipate that these changes will ensure Hollydays’ relevance and longevity. For this group, financial success is paramount. All event proceeds benefit the Junior League’s 15 mission-based programs and community outreach initiatives, including Girls on the Run, Opening Doors for Autism, and Patient Activity Days at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.
“We’ve given back over $6 million to the community since the event’s inception,” says Shoriak. “And on top of that, we produce $1.1 million worth of taxes from our out-of-town guests and merchants, which is directly injected into the Baton Rouge economy.”
This would be impossible if not for the 2,000 active and sustaining Junior League members, many of whom dedicate their time—in eight-hour shifts or more—to the Hollydays event alone.
“Each year, our members give over 45,000 hours of time to the community,” says Leslie Campbell, Junior League president. “Seventy-five percent of them are employed, which means they are giving up precious free time and vacation days to raise money and give back. It’s really inspiring.”
The Hollydays Market will be open Oct. 24–27 at the Baton Rouge River Center. For more information, visit hollydays.org.