OWASCO — The reason Connie Ryan organized the hamlet of Owasco's first Craft Fair and Chili Cook-off laid in the yard behind the fair itself: the "hamlet playground" that residents are hoping to get updated.
Starting at 10 a.m. Sunday, people walked through the rows of vendors selling hand-made crafts, like law ornaments, reusable litter bags and crochet work, as well as baked goods and honey, jewelry, books and wine glasses.
Then they could sample different kinds of chili from a separate room in the Owasco Fire Department's Station 3 and cast their vote for which one should win the chili cook-off.
The craft fair was announced on Facebook only "a few weeks ago," which is also when they started to advertise for artists, Ryan said. Still, about 20 vendors signed up for spots through Facebook and text.
"We decided to do this to bring the community together and do something to break up the winter monotony of cabin fever," Ryan said.
Community members wanted to update the hamlet playground, which Ryan said doesn't get as much attention as the town of Owasco's other playground at 6 Bristol Ave. that boasts a splash pad in the summer.
"It's not such a big area down here we don't have a lot of kids, so it kind of gets overlooked a little bit. So we wanted to kind of give it a voice," she said.
Even though the event was announced only two weeks ago, Ryan said the turnout has been steady. "It's really been amazing," she said.
Josephine Vanderwerff got a vendor slot after someone brought the fair to her attention on Facebook. From the table where she sold Pink Zebra home fragrance products, she observed that the chili and nice weather was helping the turnout.
Another frequent craft fair vendor, Pam Treat-Ulrich, said the foot traffic was a bit slow to start off but picked up in the afternoon.
The organizers hope to show the town they have the financial means and the interest to give the hamlet playground additional maintenance and upgrades, especially for young families moving back to the area with children.
In a separate room off the truck bay, where the craft fair was going on, Owasco Market Owner Natalie Palmer scooped out full servings and samples of chili.
Though the winner wouldn't be announced until the event ended, Palmer said three hours beforehand that the classic style of chili was beating out its competitors and was almost gone.
Ryan said the Owasco Market and Owasco Fire Department, "some of the biggest landmarks of the community," supported the event — the market by supplying the chili and the department by supplying its station.
"I grew up here. The playground needs fixing, so we're gonna fix it," Palmer said.
Staff writer Mary Catalfamo can be reached at (315) 282-2244 or email@example.com. Find her on Twitter @mrycatalfamo.
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