By Morgan Bryce
The inaugural “A-O Christmas Market” will be held Nov. 29 – Dec. 1 at the Bottling Plant Event Center in downtown Opelika.
Organized by Sawyer Jones and his stepmother Morgan, the event will feature three days of shopping from 60 area vendors, food, fun and music to help put patrons in the Christmas spirit.
“It’s just going to be a really fun event and you can eat while you shop. There’s going to be something for everyone, and we’re looking forward to making it even bigger and better next year,” Sawyer said.
As of Friday, nearly 8,000 people had expressed interest in attending on the event’s Facebook page, part of Jones’s goal to “bring people from across East Alabama together for this premier shopping event.”
A large portion of the proceeds raised from the event will be donated to Women’s Hope in Auburn and the BigHouse Foundation in Opelika, organizations whose causes near and dear to the organizer’s hearts.
“With Christmas being a time of giving, we wanted to be sure to give to these two great organizations who are making a difference in the lives of people here in (the Auburn-Opelika area),” Sawyer said.
Following is a breakdown of each day of the event:
• Nov. 29 (Thursday) from 6-9 p.m. – This will serve as a night for the “VIP Preview Party.” Tickets are required for entry, costing $35 online at www.aochristmasmarket.com or $40 at the door.
Attendees will be able to sample food and beverages from area food vendors, enjoy live Christmas jazz music and participate in a silent auction with items sold benefitting both the BigHouse Foundation and Women’s Hope. They will also receive free return admission all weekend and be entered into weekend-long door prize giveaways. Children 8 years old and under are free.
• Nov. 30 – (Friday) Shopping Day from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. – This is the first of the two “General Shopping Days” on Friday and Saturday. Those interested in attending are encouraged to purchase their tickets online to avoid a long wait. General admission is $10, with free admission for children 8 years old and under. Those that bring an unwrapped toy or item will only pay $5 per ticket.
From 5-9 p.m. that same day, parents looking for a fun night are encouraged to come and take part in “A Night Out in Opelika,” which will feature food and drinks from Lee County businesses.
• Dec. 1 – (Saturday) 2nd Shopping Day from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. – The holiday shopping fun continues for a second day.
From 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., parents can bring their children for “Photos and Cookies with Santa,” with half-off admission for those who bring unwrapped toys or diapers.
Parents can take their own pictures for free or have a professional photographer take them by donation only, with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward the two organizations. Cookies and cocoa will be available afterward while families peruse the event.
For more information or to learn how to donate to the event’s silent auction, call Sawyer at 334-707-4717 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The event venue is located at 614 N. Railroad Ave.