ORONO, Maine — Thousands of people looking to get a jump on their holiday shopping flocked to the University of Maine’s Alumni Association Homecoming Craft Fair and Maine Marketplace on Saturday at the school’s Field House.
Shoppers, some who came specifically for the craft fair and others who were on campus for events such as the Maine-Northeastern homecoming football game in Alfond Stadium, browsed wares from 190 vendors, all of whom are based in Maine.
“I think shoppers as a whole like to support the local people, so I think that is a plus,” said Christine Corro, the Alumni Association’s events director.
The crowds were strong Saturday morning, but Corro said it was too early to tell what items seemed to be most popular.
Some vendors said shoppers are leaning toward more practical gifts and items that have more than one purpose. But people will always want more traditional items, too, one vendor said.
“People are cutting back dollarwise, but things like [balsam fir wreaths and centerpieces], where it’s a family gift, they’re still getting,” said Mary Marshall, who runs the Franklin business Winter Wreaths.
One-of-a-kind pieces are a big draw for craft fair attendees.
“There are unique gifts and reasonable prices,” said Ann Hayward of Machias, who purchased some holiday gifts for family members. “I really like homemade things. There are things here you wouldn’t find at a store.”