Holidaze / Courtesy
Who needs a little bit of good news and holiday cheer in what has been a (to put it nicely) challenging year for pretty much everyone?
Here’s some. Holidaze is coming back.
The kitschy-fun holiday pop-up bar with over-the-top vintage decorations and themed cocktails from the folks behind Maxine’s Tap Room and Leverett Lounge will return to Fayetteville in an indoor-outdoor space at the Walton Arts Center Rose Garden this fall.
The pop-up project was a huge success in its debut last year when it set up in a vacant space on Center Street just off the square, but in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bar was in danger of not returning in 2020.
Co-owner Hannah Withers said she felt an outdoor space was needed to increase safety for guests this year, and were having a hard time finding one. They needed heaters, which are in short supply, access to restrooms, and space to spread out.
Then they got a call from the folks at Walton Arts Center.
The WAC offered up their outdoor space in the Bradberry Amphitheater and Rose Garden, with access to their Joy Pratt Markham Gallery and Sudduth Garden Room and restroom facilities, and the project suddenly became feasible again.
What: A holiday pop-up bar
Where: Walton Arts Center, Bradberry Amphitheater and Rose Garden
When: Nov. 20-Dec. 31
“We had pretty much resolved that Holidaze couldn’t happen this year because of space restrictions due to COVID-19,” Withers said. “But Walton Arts Center offered to partner and host, and it was nothing short of a holiday miracle. The gorgeous facilities with both indoor and outdoor space are sure to give us a holiday experience that we all need this year. We are excited to anchor Dickson Street with some obnoxious seasonal cheer!”
The bar will continue to offer themed holiday drinks, but will use compostable cups instead of vintage glassware. It’s all in the name of safety for patrons and staff, Withers said.
“We have a really solid plan about how to do this safely,” she said. “With social distancing, we’ll probably be able to fit around the same amount of people as our capacity in the small space from last year, just with a lot more room to spread out.”
There were other advantages, too. The WAC has access to outdoor heaters typically used by the Walmart AMP this time of year, and the staff and equipment to take care of the production needed for music and entertainment events.
An example of the holiday decor from last year’s Holidaze pop up bar / Courtesy
The project will also allow the partners to employ about 15-20 hospitality workers during the holiday season, and proceeds from the venture will go to the Walton Arts Center’s Ghost Light Recovery Fund to help provide revenue for the performing arts center that is facing a full year of lost revenue due to the pandemic.
As it did last year, Holidaze will also host select fundraising nights to benefit other local non-profit organizations.
“This partnership will allow us to give back to our community again this year, which was a big part of what this project is all about,” Withers said. “We are thrilled to be able to give back to the WAC, which is really an anchor of our downtown area.
“One of the beautiful things that have come out of the challenges of this year is seeing how we can all support each other, and to see how we can all help each other stay afloat,” she said.
Holidaze will expand its non-alcoholic drink offerings this year, since their outdoor space at the WAC could be more conducive to families that want to stop by before heading up to Lights of the Ozarks. They’ll also be able to take advantage of the new Outdoor Refreshment Area for to-go drinks for folks who want to park on Dickson Street, and take their beverage up to the square.
Withers said the extra space at the WAC this year will also allow for more of what has been her favorite part of the Holidaze pop-up project; more vintage decorations and lights.
“We have been furiously collecting decorations for the past five weeks,” she said. “We are excited and enjoying the challenge of how to light it up!”
Local resident Richard Gathright, who volunteered as general manager for the project last year, will return to help out again. Gathright said with the way the year has been going for everyone, the community needed Holidaze more than ever.
“With COVID-19 and the year everyone is having and so many people feeling down, we feel like Fayetteville needed some holiday cheer,” he said. “We are so excited about the new space, and the opportunity to bring this back in a fun and safe environment.”
Holidaze is set to open on Nov. 20 in concert with Lights of the Ozarks. The bar will be open from 5 p.m. until midnight through Dec. 31 (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day). To-go drinks will be available from 5-9:30 p.m. nightly.
A schedule of events and fundraiser nights will be released at a later date.