The Oxford Conference Center is bustling as the University of Mississippi’s department of nutrition and hospitality management helps vendors set up for a preview party of the fifth annual Oxford Holiday Market starting tonight at 6 p.m. This year is the department’s first time hosting the event but that did not deter the university students.
The Kickoff Preview Party begins tonight from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Oxford Conference Center. The tickets are $10 per person tonight with a cash bar hosted by My Michelle’s. Tomorrow morning the Holiday Market will open at 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. with tickets for $5. The first 500 shoppers to arrive will receive complimentary shopping bags with a special Shop Oxford discount postcard and all items included on the Shop Oxford Gift List of 2014.
These beneficial shopping bags are from the partnership between the department, the Shop Oxford campaign and Oxford-Lafayette Chamber of Commerce. The Chambers wrote the Shop Oxford Gift List of 2014 entitled “Great Gifts for Under $50.”
Pam Swain, vice president of the Oxford-Lafayette Chambers of Commerce, said, “We are thrilled to partner with the Oxford Holiday Market on this event and help spread the word about the importance of shopping at home and shopping Oxford during the holidays!”
The department of nutrition and hospitality is ready to host the event tonight. This year is the department’s first time hosting the Holiday Market since the Oxford Conference Center staff has hosted the annual event the past four years. The department has two courses: Event Management I (NHM 312) in which students oversee the department’s largest two fundraisers: Square Toast for Scholarships in the fall and Miss-I-Sippin’ in the spring while learning basic principles of event managing. The second course is Event Management II.
Jeremy Roberts, instructor and coordinator of marketing and events within the department of nutrition and hospitality, said, “We wanted to give Event Management II more experience in working events and gaining the hands-on experience, as we do in the first class, but with a trade-show, expo type event.”
Hayden Guest, sales manager at the Oxford Conference Center, is one of graduates of the department. Guest came to Roberts with the invitation for the department to host the Holiday Market.
She said, “I talked to Jeremy about possible fall dates for a start-up event he was thinking about doing for his class this fall. His concept sounded strangely familiar to our already established OHM. A light bulb went off in my head and I thought – ‘they have way more manpower and are looking for the exposure and experience for hospitality students, and I am so busy with the other events here at the Oxford Conference Center…’ And so the partnership began.”
Guest said she is looking forward to a bigger and better show this year as the class have welcomed several new vendors this year. The class has welcomed over 50 vendors this year.
“Sometimes fresh new ideas are just what an established event needs to keep it interesting and appealing to the public,” said Guest.
Roberts said, “We have new vendors contacting us each day about being part of the event so we are definitely happy with the turnout we will have involved in the 2014 Oxford Holiday Market. There will be a range of different vendors – book publishers, jewelry, clothing for men and women, candies and other holiday treats, treats for pets too, food and beverage vendors, holiday and home decor and yard art!”
The vendors are Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Nautilus Publishing Company, Landon Miller, Double O and Company Woodcraft, Laura Husni Jewelry, Properly Tied, to name a few. Some of these vendors are not from Oxford but are eager to meet Oxonians.
The students’ responsibilities include selling tickets to both days of the event, setting up the holiday themed decor in the Conference Center and inviting vendors to be a part of the event and gathering food donations for the preview party tonight and the vendor hospitality suite for tomorrow afternoon. After the event the class will have an evaluation of the event to help lay groundwork for the next year’s event.
Emily Schultz, a senior at the department of nutrition and hospitality, is enrolled in the Event Management II course. Schultz said the class was very hands on in the coordination and marketing of the Holiday Market.
“The class gave us the confidence and motivation to promote our event and spread the word as much as possible.” Schultz said, “This class taught us a lot about working with each other and the businesses, old and new, to generate the best turnout possible.”
She explained the grading process. Each student chose a segment of town and was responsible for marketing and promotion in that area. They delivered posters, talked with businesses about the event and also solicited food donations and a certain number of ticket sales. All of those actions turned into points for the overall grade of the event for the class.
“With only four students in the class, it is very important that everyone pull their own weight so that everything is accounted for” Schultz said, “The grade is extra motivation to get things done and get them done on time.”
Schultz said she is excited about setting up the Christmas trees and turning the Convention Center into a “winter shopping wonderland.” She said, “The seasonal music, snowflakes, trees and holiday colors are sure to spread Christmas cheer.”
Roberts said there will be another new feature at the Holiday Market aside from the gift bags: a photo-booth. “We are calling it ‘Selfies with Santa.” Roberts said, “Photo booths and posting to social media accounts are a big trend in the event industry right now so our students are going to use what they are learning in the classroom at an actual event.”
Those interested in buying a ticket need to contact the department either in person at Lenoir Hall on Sorority Row at the university or call 662-915-2621. More details of the vendors can be found on the Oxford Holiday Market’s Facebook and Twitter. Happy shopping!
Callie Daniels is the staff reporter at HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.