SOUTHINGTON - A warm invite to dunk pretzel sticks into his molasses-spiked chipotle sauce competed with Jim Johnson’s fierce brand name as he greeted visitors inside the Aqua Turf on Sunday.
Owner of Get Your Own Damn Sauce, the Voluntown resident and his girlfriend, Jenn Brown, were one of over 200 vendors selling goods at the Connecticut Christmas Gift Show.
Posted in between booths boasting handmade jewelry, clothing and artwork, the couple served up four different varieties of homemade, gluten-free and kosher hot sauce. Blueberry jalapeno, apricot cherry and raspberry “lymanite” joined the chipotle flavor for sampling.
“We’re really proud of using only high-quality ingredients,” said Johnson, a Navy veteran.
Theirs wasn’t the only booth selling food and drink products at the show. Newtown-based Maple Craft Foods was a few rows away, offering uniquely flavored maple syrup and T-shirts that read, “I’d Tap That.”
“I have a place in Vermont where we tap the trees and then transport it down here to bottle and flavor it,” owner Dave Ackert explained.
The company’s products can also be found at Shop-Rite in Southington and Big-Y in Plainville.
Right at the entrance to the show was Milford resident Jin Lee, standing behind a display of gemstone-colored scarves and necklaces she fashioned from ribbons. The accessories were one of the most popular items at the event.
“I get a lot of repeat customers,” Lee said. “I was just here last weekend for another fair.”
It marked her third time at this particular show, also celebrating its third year at the Aqua Turf.
“It’s a really good, central location,” show promoter Rob Craven pointed out. “It’s pretty much a half-hour drive from anywhere in the state. We’re pretty lucky.”
Nearly 4,000 visitors made their way through the facility Sunday, picking up gifts for family members and friends.
Craven estimated that about 70 percent were from Southington and surrounding Central Connecticut towns.
A line stretched out of the building’s main entrance before the doors opened at 9 a.m. sharp.
“It’s really busy,” Thomaston resident Jen Chasse said.
She was selling LuLaRoe clothing and accessories.
“We do really well here,” Chasse added. “That’s why we come back.”
Friends Lee Forde and Edyta Shim didn’t plan on making a big dent in their holiday shopping as they walked around.
“We’re just here for some girl time,” Forde said.
“It just seemed like a fun thing to do on a Sunday,” Shim added.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.