I paid $16 for the privilege of walking into a convention center to shop for cute, expensive gifts. Many were handmade and worth the price. Others seemed less reasonable. The ticket price was $11, but I also had to pay $5 for parking. Kind of ridiculous all around.
It's "for a good cause," whatever that cause is. The Junior League does outreach in the community, so spending money to go isn't something I feel bad about (although the parking fee just goes to that garage).
I carried Jane around on my back in the Ergo, since strollers were not allowed. (And a good thing too. It was crowded enough without the addition of strollers.) We made a loop, methodically, around the outside and then zigzagging in and out of the shorter aisles and middle aisle. There wasn't a clear flow to the aisles, so there were always people going both ways and clumps of people stopping to chat "Oh hi, I haven't seen you in forever."
(No surprise: I didn't see ANYONE I knew.)
I bought about five Christmas presents -- I had to feel like I was getting my entry fee money's worth. Just before we left Jane got down from my back to try out these expensive horse toys. They were more than $200, and the sales guy was weird about which ponies were for demonstration. I did not like him -- or the toy -- at all, but we'd walked past it and she'd asked to play on them. It was a small reward for not crying and bucking while riding on "mama horse" through the shops.
All together we were only there for a bit more than an hour. I could have spent more time methodically going through each shop and looking at pieces individually. There was a lot of great jewelry, although it's such a personal item it's hard to buy something like that for other people. (Hey, I have a birthday coming up though!) I couldn't last much longer than an hour with the 35 extra pounds on my back. And once she was down it would have been a matter of time before she wandered off -- or pulled my arm out of the socket by going limp/dragging me down.
Ideally I would go to a thing like that alone, with headphones, to shop in stealth, leave-me-alone mode, which is much more efficient although anti-social. I don't think I'll ever go to the Holly Days again, unless someone had free tickets or otherwise invited me specifically. But it was worth it to see what it was all about this once.
I didn't find out how much the booth rental was, although if I ever got serious about my crochet hats that would be an obvious place to sell. (I saw two booths that had crochet hats, but they were afterthoughts/not the main thing being sold and didn't have much selection -- they were also MUCH more expensive than mine.)
An idea for an entrepreneurial junior junior leaguer -- a child care service like they have at Ikea -- just a room or area where parents could drop off their kids and shop, for a charge of course. Could offer activities and crafts, games, etc. I definitely would have been down for using a service like that (at least in theory). It's probably a nightmare legally though.