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Black Friday alternative at Watertown craft sale

Joanna Richards
Drew Mangione, director of development for the Watertown Urban Mission, stands in front of a capital campaign sign during the nonprofit's busy holiday season.

On Black Friday, people cram into stores, treating shopping like a full-contact sport. Others hold off for a calmer experience in front of their computer screens on Cyber Monday. But some people still want a fun, communal holiday shopping experience – minus the chaos.

Watertown's annual holiday craft fair is a good option for less competitive shoppers, or people searching for a few unique items. This Sunday, two floors of the Dulles State Office Building will fill with local vendors.

"Every nook and cranny is full of great gift ideas, and even some things that you're going to want that day, like cheesecake on a stick," said Drew Mangione, director of development for the Watertown Urban Mission, the nonprofit that organizes the fair.

"If you're the type of person who buys treats for your dog for Christmas, we've got someone who makes handmade dog treats."

There's also jewelry, toys, and furniture. The 65 vendors are all from New York state; most are from the north country. The $2 admission fee and proceeds from the vendors add up to a few thousand dollars for the Urban Mission.

The money funds its food pantry, substance abuse recovery program, and other efforts to help the needy, but Mangione says the real point of the day is community-building.

"People come in, they see who's selling things from their community, they see more information about the Watertown Urban Mission, and in this holiday season of giving, we're able to show people who need help where to get help, and who want help, how to help," he said.

A charitable craft fair the Sunday after Thanksgiving has been a city tradition for decades. Different nonprofits have run it over the years.

There's free parking, live music and face painting for kids. It runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.