Special Feature Christmas Village 40 years photo of crowd

Celebrating 40 Years: The Family Story Behind Christmas Village Festival

Special Feature


For 40 years, Christmas Village Festival has been a staple shopping experience for the city of Birmingham and beyond.

It all started in 1982. Lisa Fullilove’s father, Wayne Dees, was in direct mail marketing and wanted to diversify. “He got with his silent partner and came up with something new. They traveled around the southern states to get vendors and produced the show,” Fullilove says. In the first few years, they would have a variety of live entertainment to draw more vendors and shoppers to the show. “That’s how they built the business,” she explains.

Special Feature Celebrating 40 Years Christmas Village Lisa Fallilove with volunteers in green shirts
Lisa Fullilove has worked the Christmas Village Festival since she was a teenager. She is seen here (left) with volunteers who make the event a success each year.

Fullilove has fond memories of growing up around the show. “I grew up selling tickets, taking tickets, decorating and all of the fun things,” Fullilove says. Christmas Village Festival has always been at the BJCC but has expanded over the years. “It used to only be in the north and south hall of the BJCC but now we take up the whole exhibition space,” she adds. She remembers the early years of the show being somewhat chaotic but each year became more organized. “We are now known for the organization of the show. That’s why vendors come back year after year.” The show started with roughly 200 vendor booths and now has 750 booths! Seeing Christmas Village Festival grow each year fills Fullilove with a sense of pride for what her father began 40 years ago. “He was a wonderful person,” she says.

Special Feature Christmas Village 40 years manger scene
For 40 years Christmas Village Festival has been helping visitors celebrate the season and complete their Christmas shopping.

One common misconception about Christmas Village Festival is that everything is Christmas related. “It’s not all Christmas items. We have gift items and personal items like food vendors, pottery, jewelry, art and more,” Fullilove says, adding that shoppers can expect to see new vendors this year including inflatable chairs for the beach.

Christmas Village Festival will be at the BJCC on November 3-5 from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and November 6 from Noon- 5 p.m. “Stop by and get all of your shopping done in one place,” Fullilove says. To learn more, visit www.christmasvillagefestival.com or call 205-836-7173.

-Melissa Armstrong

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