EARLY— More than a dozen vendors as well as numerous visitors filled the CARR community room for the second annual Early Chamber of Commerce Christmas Expo.

With less than an hour left until the event’s conclusion, stragglers continued through the doors with vendors selling a wide variety of items from Christmas-themed to western and everything in between.

“We’ve had a pretty good number of people come in. Of course, the weather has been a factor because it’s a little cold outside, but I think everybody has enjoyed themselves, especially with the hot cocoa bar and seeing Santa,” said interim chamber director Domonique Stephens. “I got blessed with good, unique vendors who are great at their crafts and they are all local. It’s been two years so this is still fairly new. I’m pleased with our vendors. These are an amazing group of people I am glad to work with and hopefully we can do more in the future.”

For Stephens the event will be one of her last as interim director following the announcement of incoming director Kandice Harris, who will begin her tenure in early January. 

“I’m excited about the changes coming and I can’t wait to work with her and see what we can do for this community,” Stephens said. 

Another group assisting with the Expo was the Early Travel and Tourism Bureau. With Early’s new visitor center set to open sometime in February, the event may change locations next year with the new multi-purpose facility already signing on the Early High School prom as one of its first bookings. Hudson announced the Early Texas Showcase Fireworks Show that was cancelled last fall due to rain will be rescheduled to celebrate opening night of the $1.5 million facility.

“We’re really excited. My favorite part of it is the visitor aspect of it. I say all of the time, ‘we live in one of the greatest parts of Texas.’ We’re not the official center, but we’re 39 miles from the geographical center. We have a lot to offer, we just have to let everyone else know.”

Although looking forward to opening the new office inside the travel center, and hosting future events, Hudson said the city will maintain a close relationship with CARR and, due to the nature of the visitor center, the venues will not be competing to draw in events.

“We’re different types of venues, it depends on seating and all different kinds of things. We’re still going to continue to promote all of the venues in town,” Hudson said. “The front part of our facility will be set up as a visitor area. It will have information on everything in Early and Brown County as a whole … We hope to be able to tell everyone what a great place this is.”