Things edible are a highlight of festival

A vase of plastic painted flowers at the booth of Ocean Images at the annual Craft Festival held at the O'Dome in Gainesville, Saturday Nov. 24, 2012.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, November 24, 2012 at 6:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 24, 2012 at 6:17 p.m.

It may be named a crafts festival, but from honey to hot sauce, edible homemade treats were a major draw at the annual post-Thanksgiving event at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville.


Craft Festival continues Sunday

What: Hundreds of vendors selling arts and crafts and food items.
When: Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where:O'Connell Center, UF campus
Cost: $4, $1 UF students, free for children 12 and younger

Several of the food vendors drawing customers at Craft Festival 2012 said many of the people forking over cash are repeats who buy from them year after year.

But they add that they make plenty of new fans as well.

"People have already come up to me — quite a few — and said they bought from us before and came back," said Andrew Vasicek, who helps his beekeeping aunt, Jean Vasicek, sell her Winter Park Honey at the festival. "This (festival) is a good place for us."

Her honey is from bees that have lighted on plants from Florida orange blossoms to Oregon meadowfoam flowers — definitely not honey that can be found in a typical Gainesville grocery store.

Sisters Alice Burton, of Ocala, and Elsie Matthews, of Palm Coast, were manning Ginger's Jams and Jellies booth for their other sister, Ginger Hartley, who was also selling her goods at a crafts fair in Jacksonville on Saturday.

Hartley said by phone that she has sold her goods at the Gainesville fair for several years, along with various community festivals such as those in Micanopy and McIntosh.

Burton said Saturday's big seller — as it usually is — was a jalapeno jelly that has both sweetness and spice.

"All of them are really great. But so far as customers go, it's the jalapeno. They love that," Burton said. "Then certain customers are looking for certain items. Some want guava, some want marmalades. They know what they want. They get them for gifts as well as for themselves."

Heat was what Donna Minish of Morriston in Levy County was hunting. She tried several samples of sauces from the Hey Mon! Caribbean Cooking booth before settling on a variety of bottles.

Minish said she buys food at the festival because it is better than the goods in grocery stores.

"I love this stuff. It's good for finishing, or you can marinade your food in it. I put it on my salmon before I broil it, and it creates a nice glaze," Minish said. "You can't find stuff like this in the store. It's very different. You find stuff here that you don't get elsewhere. When I run out, I get sad."

If people love unique food, pet lovers love unique treats for the pets. That's where Bow Wow Couture comes in.

Founded by Gainesville's Anne Cutter and Amy Nicole Davis, Bow Wow Couture features handmade collars, bow ties that clip onto collars, harnesses and other items in designer fabrics.

Cutter said the business is primarily wholesale and through the Internet, and is booming in its third year. Bow Wow Couture now has four employees and will be adding more, she added.

Elisabeth Claus was sold.

"They are adorable," Claus said. "I have a dog and my friend has a dog. I am going to get him a bow tie for his dog because I know he secretly wants to dress his dog up but would never go out and do it himself."

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