The Franklin County Annex Building at 839 Dinah Shore Blvd. in Winchester was not in its usual government headquartering format Friday and Saturday, looking more reminiscent of a carefully planned arts and crafts shopping area.
The Southern Tennessee Ladies’ Society held its Holiday Market throughout the former high school building with the main hallway strategically geared to move shoppers through the facility in front of all the boutique-style arts and crafts the fair had to offer, setting a festive tone for the gift-giving season.
Sandi Mackey, Holiday Market chairperson who also handles the organization’s publicity, said 58 total booths had been set up to accommodate 50 exhibitors with some occupying two spaces.
The event’s objective is to raise money for the STLS Scholarship Foundation which has benefitted 71 students from Franklin, Coffee, Grundy, Lincoln and Moore County high schools with a total of $209,000 in scholarships raised since its inception in 2009.
The STLS is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. All proceeds from the sale of booth spaces, food items and goods sold in the showcase booths benefit the STLS Scholarship Foundation.
Mackey said she was hoping that the Holiday Market would be able to add about $4,000 to the fund to benefit future students.
She said the Holiday Market serves a two-fold purpose — in addition to raising scholarship money, it allows arts and craft vendors an opportunity to showcase their items and allow the customers to share in unique offerings. She added that the fair promotes a local economy, unlike internet-derived sales.
“It’s wonderful,” Mackey said, adding that vendors from as far away as Crossville were at the event.
Susan Weir’s booth was called “Forever Faithful by Susan” and offered boutique jewelry items.
Weir, from Dunlap, said it was worth her time and effort to venture over to the other side of Monteagle to participate in the Holiday Market.
She said Friday afternoon that the turnout looked good, considering it was a work day with Saturday still to go when many residents would not be at their jobs and would be able to visit the event.
“I feel very happy with it,” Weir said. “I love the community feeling of the small-town atmosphere here, and the people are wonderful. They come by and really support the event.”
Larry and Sherry Wendland from Tullahoma said they enjoyed the opportunity to market Larry’s hand-turned writing pens made from exotic wood.
Sherry said the couple may be retired, but they keep active with the pen-producing operation.
“I love it,” she said, referring to the Holiday Market. “This gets me out of the house, and it’s a lot of fun.”
The couple agreed that they enjoyed interacting with those attending the event.
Jerry and Ann Lendley, also from Tullahoma, were showcasing their predominantly agate jewelry on behalf of their business, “Jerry & Ann’s Rocks.”
They said they attend 10 or 12 craft fairs a year, but the Holiday Market is one of the best they’ve experienced. The Lendleys said they plan to make repeat appearances.
Debra Mahler, Sadie Chandler, Charlotte Brown and Tina Roth are STLS founders and charter members.
They agreed that the Holiday Market and other STLS fundraisers serve a worthy cause.
Roth provided her assessment.
“It means a lot of kids get into college who couldn’t get there otherwise,” she said, adding that the organization’s fundraisers are well worth the effort.
Brown echoed Roth’s statements.
“It’s great because we help high school students who don’t have the funding to go to college,” she said. “It feels good to be a part of that.”
Chandler said in addition to creating educational opportunities, STLS involvement promotes fellowship among its members.
“There is wonderful camaraderie for the women who are involved in this,” she said.
“It’s a wonderful way for us to get together for a good purpose,” she said.
Chandler said Mahler has been the driving force behind the organization’s formation and its efforts.
“She’s been a wonderful leader,” Chandler said.
The Holiday Market also attracted musical talent with patriotic singer and songwriter Angela Lashley participating to promote her musical career with “So Brave” CDs available and to simultaneously sell her unique champagne candles and vintage jewelry items.
Lashley resides in Nashville after honing her musical skills in her native Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
She said the Holiday Market was enjoyable.
“It’s great to get the chance to participate in this,” she said, adding that it was great mingling with the people who attended the event.