AUBURN | Within one day, Cayuga Community College morphed from a center of learning into a mecca for crafts.
The Auburn college evolved into a temporary shopping complex this weekend for the 39th annual Holiday Festival Craft Show, a two-day-long festival full of enough hand-knit sweaters, whiskey-flavored fudge and decoupaged furniture to make any craft lover's heart swell.
Instead of students, CCC's hallways were filled with brightly decorated vendors' booths. Shoppers ambled among the dozens of booths, examining each unique ware as if they were viewing pieces in an art gallery.
Alexius Jones, owner of I'm Melting...Glass, took a break from selling melted wine bottle cheese boards and animal-shaped glass ornaments early Saturday afternoon to sit. Smiling, the artist said her first day — and first year — showing at the Holiday Festival Craft Show was going well.
"This is so easy, easy in and out," Jones said. "It's nice that it's a free event."
Jones said the charge-free event helps bring in customers and craft enthusiasts, allowing her to share her unique creations with a larger audience. And considering each of her creations are made out of flat glass or recycled wine, beer or liquor bottles, Jones said each customer is guaranteed a one-of-a-kind purchase.
"Each piece — if you laid them all on top of each other — they wouldn't be the same," she said.
A few booths away, Carolyn Collier admired a pair of socks knit with alpaca yarn, explaining that she stopped by the craft fair in the hopes of finding an eclectic gift.
"I was looking for a Christmas gift for a Secret Santa at work," she explained.
But while shopping for co-worker and bringing her 3-month-old daughter to her first craft fair, Collier said some sterling silver jewelry hooked her attention.
"I bought a spoon ring for me and my sister," she said, showing off the initial-bearing rings.
Although the ranks of the craft fair's booths were mostly made up of vendors selling arts, crafts and food, some service-minded vendors used the festival as an opportunity to promote their missions.
Cindy Swift, of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, said her organization decided to bring two in-training service dogs — along with a spread of chew toys and bandanas — to the Holiday Festival Craft Show for multiple reasons.
"The craft fair is a wonderful socialization service for the pups," Swift said, giving Roxanna, a 4-month-old German Shepherd, a scratch behind her ears.
Along with giving the dogs a chance to interact with a mix of music, babies and wheelchairs, Swift said the craft fair gives the organization a chance to spread awareness about its mission and raise money to cover the dogs' shots.
"We have some items for sale, so it's a win-win situation," she said. "It helps the people, it helps the pups."
And when the trainers' work is done, Swift said they take a turn around the college to see what the annual fair has to offer.
"When the pups are tired," she said, "We can put them out in the crates and do some shopping ourselves."