I passed through the seven levels of the candy cane forest …
This is what was going through my mind as I made my way across the parking lot of the Park Expo and Conference Center on my way to the sneak preview of the 52nd annual SouthernChristmas Show on Wednesday night. My companions were SouthPark’s account representative and audience development manager, Scott Leonard, along with K104.7 FM’s morning host Phil Harris. Phil’s station will launch its holiday music extravaganza next week, so he had to prep — and we both wanted to check out what’s new this year and get a line on the best food booths.
If you’ve never been to the show, it is definitely something you have to see at least once. It is HUGE. There are more than 450 vendors from all over showcasing all things holiday. Three huge halls are filled with vendors showcasing ornaments, Christmas sweaters, crafts, fruitcake, gifts, etc. — you name it, they’ve got it. And the food — man, the food. There are cheeses, pecans, fudge, wine, pimento cheese (shoutout to Queen Charlotte’s) — even moonshine-infused sauces. Go get some samples, and load up on antacid!
Our merry group was there to identify five unique things to see at the show. It was a tough job, but we were just the guys to do it. Here’s what we found:
The classic train display has probably been there since the beginning. A huge train track circles what looks like all facets of a town or region. This is something for all the kids to see when they need a bit of a break from the crowd.
Don’t let the Pillsbury Doughboy fool you with that Toaster Strudel stuff, Helmut’s Strudel is the real deal. It’s hot, flaky and delicious, though hard to eat on the spot as it crumbles like crazy. My kids and I demolished an apple one a few years back. When we left the floor looked like a shark feeding frenzy of pastry and powdered sugar.
When I was a kid, you had to shake a snow globe for it to snow, right? Not these lucky kids today. All you have to do is look at them. New age snow globes featuring Santa’s workshop, Dickensian carolers or a nativity scene have an electronic pump that keeps the snow going as long as you want — and a light to showcase it even more. (I didn’t know it snowed in Bethlehem though …)
Peppered throughout the venue, you will find infomercial mini studios — two rows of chairs, a mock stage with a spokesperson for a special peeler, knife or nonstick frying pan, putting on a pretty darn good show. For the audience, it’s a great way to take a load off and feel like you’re an audience member at QVC — and wonder if this person might just lose a finger.
Grandma accessories: If you go to the show, you must know that almost every grandma from the Metrolina area will be attending — so please don’t yell “Memaw,” “Nanna” or “Granny” the top of your lungs, or half of the attendees will stop in their tracks. This is Christmas central and the place to be for the next week for anyone planning decorations, recipes, etc. for grandmother’s home turf. Of course, there are ornaments, wood carvings, sweatshirts and sweaters totally dedicated to “World’s Best Grandma” catering to this important audience.
The Southern Christmas Show started yesterday and runs through Sunday, Nov. 24 at the Park Expo. It’s a great way to get into the spirit, so check it out!