For an event that took a year off, it didn't seem like that had any negative impact on attendance as thousands attended the Arts and Crafts Fair at the Grace Community Center on Nov. 22 and 23.
A record number of vendors jammed into the community center selling, arts, crafts, clothing, paintings, jewelry, food, spices and much more.
The event began Friday night with a four-hour soft opening before the all-day sale Saturday, said Marcia Smith, event coordinator, who added that cheap, flea market vendors need not apply.
Cristy Spurling and Maria Stamulus sell their pumpkin whoppie pies and other goodies at the crafts fair at Grace Community Center Nov. 23.
"When you look around, everything is high quality. It's not like a garage sale, and we have a team where we require three photos of their work and the team decides yes or no," Smith said. "They have to be hand-crafted items."
And about 70 of them came from throughout Southwest Florida to sell their wares, indoors and outdoors, and to help the Grace Community Center continue its mission to serve the community.
"We have more than 80 missions we fund from here, such as the food pantry, the pet food, GED classes," Smith said. "All these things need to be funded and this and out golf tournament are the two big fund-raisers."
The event also featured a bake sale and other food which was sold outdoors, along with a silent auction and door prizes.
There were very unique offerings, from soap that looked exactly like cupcakes, to flowers made from old vinyl records, which were sold by special needs adults.
"They're selling the melted records as yard art, ornaments, butterflies. I came up with the idea, but the students come up with a lot of it," said Betty Henderson, who works with the special needs people.
Bruce Truin of Arcadia was selling animals made from recycled material such as copper.
"Some take me a long time, others take a little sooner. I have things from $20 to $1,200," Truin said. "There's something for everyone."
Christy Spurling and Maria Stamulus, dressed as Pilgrims, sold their pumpkin whoopie pies, a Pennsylvania Dutch dessert, and apple and pumpkin mini-pies on a stick, which was a big hit the entire weekend.
"We do a lot of the holiday craft shows. We were up until midnight last night making more pies, that's how good they are," they said.
"The kids are loving the event. They love the Italian Ice and the kittens," said Jessica Cantu, whose kids were admiring the litter of babies a vendor brought with him.
Last year's event was cancelled after a scheduling conflict occurred, and many of the vendors had scheduled to be elsewhere on the rescheduled date, so it was scrapped.
Those who came to do some early shopping, or just browse, saw something that interested them.
"They didn't have it last year so I'm excited they brought it back and it's the largest I've seen," said Anita Foster, who brought her daughter and friend with her. "I love arts and crafts so everything is great. I always have my eye out for a gift."