Twenty years ago this month, Kathy Holloway and four PTA friends spent the night locked inside Forest Meadow Junior High.

Officially, they were there to guard the wares of the 35 vendors participating in the school’s first Market in the Meadow.

“We took sleeping bags and a TV and slept in the school, making hourly rounds,” Holloway says. “We really had a wonderful time.”

A wonderful time aided by the occasional sampling of baked goods for sale, she admits today, and interrupted only briefly by a race to hide in the teacher’s lounge when they heard someone trying to enter the building. (They later were relieved to find out it was just the assistant principal stopping by to check on them.)

That first Market in the Meadow show was a success, netting $1,500, despite dismal weather.

“It rained horribly Saturday and Sunday, so we were a little disappointed in the turnout,” Holloway says. “But at the end of the show, most of the vendors said they’d be back.”

This month, more than 150 vendors, including some of the original 35, will help transform the school into a bustling marketplace filled with one-of-a-kind items and an equally unique community spirit.

The show not only gives residents an opportunity to find unusual holiday gifts, but also provides its organizers, the Forest Meadow PTA, with much-needed funds for school programs and activities.

It has become the group’s only fundraiser, netting $39,000 last year.

Crysta Jones, a PTA vice president, is in charge of this year’s show, leading a team that includes a 25-member committee and many more volunteers.

“It is a lot of work, but it’s fun work,” she says. “Everybody looks forward to it all year. People go to shop, but also to see other people. It’s really a community thing.”

With nary a crocheted toilet paper cover or beer can hat to be found, Market in the Meadow is no flea market. Instead, it’s filled with art, home décor, jewelry, clothes, food, entertainment and more.

Most of the vendors are from the Dallas area, but some come from as far as San Antonio and Oklahoma City. They come because Market in the Meadow isn’t just a nice place to shop – it’s also a nice place to sell.

Just ask Lake Highlands resident Julie Tennant, who designs and sells clothing and costumes for children through her company, A Girl and Her Doll. Tennant is not only one of the show’s regular vendors, she was also present for the first market 20 years ago. She says she attends 15 such events each year, and Market in the Meadow is one of her favorites.

“It’s very well organized,” she says. “The people are great to work with, and there’s just a nice attitude of helping vendors. They have students help you load and pack up, which is wonderful. It’s a really nice touch.”

Sure, the market’s popular with both vendors and shoppers today. But what was it like 20 years ago? In many ways, much like it is today…just on a much smaller scale.

“Our budget was very limited, so we did everything ourselves,” Holloway says. “Volunteers did all the cooking and served the food.”

And that, it seems, is the secret to the market’s success. Thanks to months of work by PTA members, vendors and shoppers alike look forward to the show each year.

And though Holloway no longer helps plan the show, she remains one of its most loyal customers.

“I’m extremely proud of it,” she says. “And I’m the first one there every Saturday morning to shop.”

This year’s Market in the Meadow is scheduled Saturday, Oct. 11, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 12, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Forest Meadow Junior High, 9373 Whitehurst.