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Hospital's 2008 Marketplace draws buyers, vendors
Sharon McLean strolls through the Moso Artwork display Friday evening at the Gainesville Civic Center during the 17th Annual Marketplace preview party. The annual event features a silent and live auction, with proceeds going to the Northeast Georgia Health System’s Women’s Imaging Center.

Faithful attendees of the annual Marketplace come from far and wide to peruse the items that vendors offer.

Wendy Altman used to drive all the way from Florida to attend the event. She enjoyed the showings so much that she decided to become a vendor and sell her festive holiday quilts and stockings.

"This is my second year as a vendor. Before that I was a customer for five or six," says Altman, who is the owner of Four Seasons Quilt Shoppe in Dawsonville. "I used to drive up for the show with my mom. When I moved up here, I said that I would become a vendor for sure."

The Marketplace is an annual holiday shopping event sponsored by The Medical Center Auxiliary Inc. and SunTrust Bank. Each year, proceeds from the event, which is in its 17th year, go to Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

This year, funds from the event will be used for the hospital’s new women’s imaging outpatient center.

Hundreds of customers milled around the civic center munching on shrimp and grits and finger foods as they enjoyed the Marketplace preview party Thursday evening.

Vendors for the Marketplace have come from across the United States to sell everything from homemade quilts, to silver platters and custom paintings.

"This is one of the best shows that I do," said Debbie Mibs, the owner of Lasting Impressions in Sandersville. "This is my sixth year as a vendor. I just really enjoy the people, and it is such a well-organized opportunity to showcase my jewelry."

The event is open from 9:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. today and from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets for the two-day event at the Gainesville Civic Center are $5, with children 12 years old and younger receiving free admission.

Last year, the event raised $90,000 for the hospital. This year, event organizers hope to top that figure.

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