FORT KENT, Maine — Once the holidays roll around, it’s never too early in the day for fudge.
That was sweet news for Eric Carter of Mom’s Fudge of Maine as he passed out samples of the rich confection Saturday morning at the 30th annual Greater Fort Kent Area Chamber of Commerce Arts and Crafts Fair.
“This is our third year coming here,” Carter said as fairgoers snagged samples off a display platter. “Foot traffic has been steady [and] we really enjoy coming here.”
He’s not alone. While holiday shoppers lined up outside the University of Maine at Fort Kent’s sports complex to get into the fair, about 100 vendors inside were doing brisk business.
Within minutes of the doors opening, Lisa Bossie of Celebration Crafts and Creations had sold out of hanging wooden apple Christmas tree decorations.
“We plan every year at Thanksgiving to meet up and come here,” Carla Thibodeau of St. Francis said as she picked out the decorations. “It’s a family tradition.”
Thibodeau was joined Saturday by her sister Carlene Dumond of Fort Kent and her niece Becky Daigle of Madawaska.
“It’s a social time,” Daigle said. “I’ve seen people here already this morning I don’t see all year long.”
For Bossie, who’s been coming to the Fort Kent fair for 25 years, it’s as much about that social aspect as it is about commerce.
“I just like making the ornaments and then seeing all the people year after year,” she said. “It’s been at least 25 years I’ve been coming. Of course, before then is a bit of a haze of glitter and Santa beards.”
Several aisles over, Connie Shaw was selling organic catnip with the Pussums Cat Co.
A first-timer at the fair, Shaw came up from Hartford with bags, mice and other feline toys stuffed with the “curiously strong, wicked good” catnip.
“We’ve done the Common Ground Fair and the Cumberland Fair, and we thought we’d give this one a try,” Shaw said. “So far, we are liking what we’ve seen.”
Longtime Greater Fort Kent Area Chamber of Commerce volunteer Rita Canaan was so busy selling tickets at the front door, she had little time to look up.
“This is the longest line of people waiting to get in on opening morning I’ve ever seen,” Canaan said. “We are very happy and it’s so good to see the weather cooperating.”
It’s the combination of a variety and quality of merchandise that spells the event’s annual success, Kay Paradis, Chamber president, said.
“People really enjoy coming here to see what is being offered and to meet up with old friends,” Paradis said. “There’s no reason not shop here for the holidays since there is everything you need, from wreaths to stocking stuffers.”
The annual craft fair was scheduled to run through Sunday afternoon.