Busy season: Southern Christmas Show packed with people, products

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 15, 2018

As much as I enjoy the Christmas season, I equally dislike going shopping — especially if it lasts more than an hour or two. So, when the opportunity came to attend the Southern Christmas Show in Charlotte, it wasn’t an easy decision.

We’re talking about thousands of people coming through the doors over 10 days at the sprawling Park Expo & Conference Center — with 450-plus vendors and 250,000 square feet of space split between three buildings — to check out the lighted trees, decorations, special gifts and holiday treats.

But this is something my wife has always wanted to do, and being the nice husband that I am (and knowing the food choices would be plentiful along with the chances to just sit around and soak in the Christmas spirit), I had to go.

I tried to be as prepared as possible, doing as much research as I could online, and knew it would be crowded. My strategy was to arrive a little after the mad rush of the 10 a.m. opening, but there was still a line of cars stretching back to Independence Boulevard.

We finally got in the parking lot and headed for the entrance. I can’t ever remember paying to shop, but it was $13 each online (and $15 at the door).

Liberty Hall is the first building, the most decorated and where the sights and sounds of the season were most evident as you wind through an enchanting village of glistening shops. It was beautiful but also so busy we could hardly navigate the tight hallways.

We had heard it might be best to start at the back in Independence Hall and make our way back to the front, so that’s what we did.

Honestly, it wasn’t the best place to begin. I felt like we were at a retail expo or flea market with some vendors hawking their wares. At times it seemed like being at the fair with some of salespeople yelling out to those passing by to try their products — like miracle chairs to help with aching backs or other items that had nothing to do with Christmas.

Plus, it was a lot of walking up and down the aisles on the concrete floors — maybe I should have tried one of those chairs after all.

Freedom Hall, which was just on the other side, was not quite as large and seemed to have a few more holiday-related items. Also, we found some hot strudel, followed by butter toffee pecans. Yum!

By then, it was time to take a break — while my wife continued to shop — and I headed back to the entertainment stage just past the food court to find a seat and listen to some Christmas music performed by one of the local school bands.

Finishing up where we started in Liberty Hall put a nice bow on the day with more of a Christmas feel and more offerings from local artisans and crafters. Many were creating some treasures on site, and we picked up some unique gifts before putting the wraps on a five-plus hour shopping day. That’s probably an all-time record for me.

Would I go back? I never like to say never, but I can get my Christmas fix each year by going to the Winston-Salem Symphony’s program at Reynolds Auditorium, Calvary Baptist Church’s annual Christmas production and Tanglewood’s Festival of Lights – and not have to shop or travel.

• • • • •

Here’s a tip of the cap to the Davie County Arts Council Brock Players’ performance of “Farce of Habit,” which just completed its run over two weekends at the Brock Performing Arts Center in Mocksville.

There were plenty of laughs in the “Southern fried” comedy that featured a number of storylines centered around all a variety of characters coming together at the same time at the Reel ’Em Inn, a little fishing village lodge in rural Arkansas.

I especially enjoyed the performance of David Piner as “Huddle Fisk,” who had lived an ordinary life and came to the Ozarks looking for an adventure. He certainly found one and was hilarious in his role.

Like the program said, laughing your way through this comedy is “one habit you’ll never want to break.”