With 30,000 people on the Oregon State University campus each day, a built-in clientele is already on site to enjoy OSU’s 35th Holiday Marketplace.

And folks were coming through the doors to the tune of 400 people per hour Friday on the first day of the two-day event, which features 70-plus artisans and vendors as well as live music and food.

“I really love the market,” said Jessica Buser, a sophomore microbiology major from the Lane County town of Cheshire. “It’s an excellent way to get me in the mood for Christmas.”

Buser already had picked up some sour cream dip “for studying” and preferred the jalapeno garlic flavored tuna that Robert Anthony was selling along the rear wall of the Memorial Union Ballroom. Anthony, who has been reeling in tuna, salmon and crab from the Pacific Ocean for 37 years, is in his second decade at the marketplace.

“It’s a fun show,” said Anthony, who lives in Yachats but parks his boat in Newport. “It’s starting out really great. I’m already seeing a lot more people than last year.”

Anthony also was selling smoked and plain tins of tuna as well as offering free samples. His booth regularly is one of the top sellers at the marketplace, and Anthony said he expected to sell all 50 cases he brought to Corvallis.

And how was the garlic jalapeno?

“It was excellent,” Buser said. “I like spicy foods.”

Another long-timer at the market place, a few steps away from Anthony, was Jake Szramek, a wooden toy maker who got his master’s in resource geography from OSU in 1972 (or 1973 … he isn’t sure). Szramek, who lives in Salem, has been making his toys since 1972 (he is pretty sure on this one) and noted models for teething babies that have no parts that can be swallowed or choked on.

The happily retired Szramek has been “living my hobby. You have to have a hobby before you retire. If you don’t have a hobby then what would you do?”

“This is a really friendly show,” Szramek said. “It’s an easy-paced show, the people who come here are easygoing and the vendors are friendly, too. Some of the bigger shows you go to … people can be a bit snobbish.”

Stopping by ouside Szramek’s booth was Amy Leeds, an OSU staffer in professional and continuing education.

“I’m really impressed with all the vendors," she said. “It’s great for Christmas gifts and it supports talented people.”

Sarah Lewis, a senior faculty research assistant in geology, meanwhile, joined the marketplace after singing in a holiday show upstairs at the Memorial Union with the University Chorale.

“I just wasn’t ready to go back to work yet,” she said as she wandered through the booths.

OSU’s food and science technology department was selling OSU’s own brand of cheese, now in its third year of commercial availability. Randy Owen, a senior food science major from Hereford, Maryland, said the smoked Swiss was “flying off the shelf,” with the booth also offering an alpine style Swiss and cheddar curds (the cheddar itself still is aging and not ready to consume).

Owen was asked if there was any coincidence (or karma) to the fact that a guy from a town named for a cow would wind up in the dairy field?

“No, you’re the first person to bring it up,” he said.

Susan Bourque, meanwhile, the manager of the OSU Craft Center, which puts on the marketplace, was everywhere, making sure the musicians got taken care of, giving people directions and even reattaching the tape that kept a light display intact.

Bourque predicted that approximately 4,000 will attend the marketplace, which concludes today. The booth fees that vendors pay constitute the biggest fundraiser of the year for the nonprofit campus arts program.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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