HOULTON, Maine — With the holiday season now upon us, scores of people descended on the Gentle Memorial Building Friday and Saturday for the 38th annual Holiday Craft Fair.
The recreation center has traditionally hosted the fair, which has grown steadily from a couple dozen vendors in its first year to more than 60 booths the past few years. What started out as multiple craft fairs in the Shiretown held at various churches around the Thanksgiving weekend merged into one all-inclusive event in 1983.
“It used to be that everyone had their own craft fair, but then we were approached by a few of them who asked if we could host one large fair at the Rec,” explained Marie Carmichael, Houlton’s recreation director. “Those churches that still want to have their own (craft fairs) can still do that as well.”
Vendors were able to set up their booths from 7 to 10 a.m., and Carmichael said there was a good crowd waiting to get in prior to the official opening. The streets surrounding the Gentle Memorial Building were lined with vehicles stretching out in all directions Friday morning.
“The turnout has been absolutely great,” Carmichael said. “We are so glad to be back to normal.”
This year’s event featured an impressive 67 vendors, selling everything from hand-knitted mittens to scented candles and elaborate holiday decorations.
Delores Hammond was one of the many vendors selling goods at the event.
“It has been very busy so far, and I have seen lots of other wonderful vendors with beautiful products,” Hammond said. “This is my first time with a booth and it is so much fun. We had people waiting to come in before it even started.”
Deborah Wynes was busy selling her gourmet “Wynes’ Trailside Popcorn” at the event and said she was amazed at how many people were coming through.
“It’s been incredible,” Wynes said. “The sales have been fabulous. This is my sixth year selling here. Every year has been better than the year before and I am hoping that trend continues. It’s lovely to see so many people out and to have a chance to chat with them.”
Joan Fournier of Houlton was one of those people checking out the craft fair.
“I am so excited,” Fournier said. “I went downtown first to go to most of the stores and then I came here (for gifts). I love it.”