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Millis/Medway - Local Town Pages

65-Year-Old Jolly Holly Fair Goes Virtual for this Year

Oct 27, 2020 01:13PM ● By Judy O'Gara

Jolly Holly Online Marketplace Nov. 15-December 4 Supports Millis Church of Christ, Congregational

It’s been taking place every year since 1955, and Covid-19 isn’t going to stop it this year. The Millis Church of Christ, Congregational is excited to announce that its annual Jolly Holly event – the church’s biggest fundraiser of the year, is still on – but this year it will be taking place online. 

From Noon on Sunday, November 15 to Noon on Friday, December 4, the church will be hosting the Jolly Holly Online Marketplace. Online sales will feature a Silent Auction with a wide collection of items to bid on or purchase, including themed baskets, handcrafted knits, gift cards, unique gifts, and a variety of other popular items. The online marketplacewill also highlight a number of local vendors. Get a jump on your holiday shopping from the comfort of your home. Details are available on the church website at and on Facebook at MillisUCCChurch.

“The women’s fellowship started the fair in about 1955,” says Beck Abalutzk, who is co-chairing this year’s event with Gail Luck. The fair originated around the time Burl Ives’ “A Holly Jolly Christmas” was popular, and so as not to use a trademarked name, original planners chose to call it a “Jolly Holly” event, as it has remained.

“It’s been a long-standing tradition, and to the best of my knowledge, since they started the fair, they’ve never missed a year,” says Abalutzk, “so I’m doing my best to maintain that.”

The goal, says Abalutzk, was to make the holiday fair “happen in some way, shape or form.” Abalutzk had considered an outdoor fair such as a Weinachtsmarkt, or German Christmas market, “but I wasn’t sure that was going to work, because of course, everything has been fluctuating with Covid-19 – you can have only so many people for a gathering,” she says.

Abalutzk, who is a music instructor at Encore, learned through that channel about online silent auction programs. She and Luck explored the option and settled on online host 32 Auctions to make it work.

“We have to set it up ourselves,” says Abalutzk. “They basically just host it.”

Visitors to the Millis UCC website will find a page with a link to the silent auction items as well as links to the participating vendors. For those who are looking to shop local, Abalutzk explains that nearly all the church’s vendors are local people who began their own business. At press time, Touchstone Crystals and crafter Alicia Thomas had confirmed their participation.

Although silent auction items were not entirely confirmed at press time, Luck says this year, folks can bid on wine baskets, piano and instrument lessons, a Covid cleaning basket, a pie-making service, home-made holiday décor, a doll accessories basket, signed Bruins pucks, Red Sox paraphernalia, a tea basket, and coffee basket, as well as gift certificates for several local restaurants and businesses such as Unlikely Story, Roche Bros, and even a local oil company.

This year’s fair will not be able to feature its typical baked goods section, says the organizer, as “by regulations, we can’t sell any kind of food.”

Abalutzk knows that the annual fundraiser may take a hit this year, but she remains hopeful. “I have not sat and done the number crunching, but a lot of our initial cost to run the fair is actually done through donation, including all the food we sell. So, we don’t have the food (this year), but we also don’t have to spend money on utensils. The overhead is probably going to be about the same.”

“This fair is extremely important to the church, and I think it’s important to the community, since it’s such a long-standing tradition. I think our effort to maintain the fair is also an effort to maybe maintain some kind of normalcy in our current state,” says Abalutzk.

Online fairgoers will have the chance to pick up their items at the culmination of the event, with vendors set up in the parking lot. Complete plans at press time were not yet finalized, but will be posted at the church’s website,

Abalutzk adds, “We’re trying to stay flexible and meet any of the challenges as they arise.”