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Hot air balloons, local vendors, cultural presentations entertain visitors

Morgan Parker | The Feather Online

Over 200 vendors attended ClovisFest this year, Oct. 26-27. Booths sold everything from food, crafts and handmade jewelry to household items.

Families and friends from all over the Valley flooded the streets of Old Town Clovis for the 45th annual Table Mountain Casino ClovisFest, Oct. 26-27.

Beginning with sunrise and the hot air balloon launch from the Clovis Rodeo Grounds, ClovisFest continued throughout the day with rides, music, international celebrations, local treats and vendors. This street party atmosphere draws thousands every year to participate in the festivities.

Around 250 arts and crafts vendors lined 12 blocks of Old Town Clovis, advertising handmade jewelry, local honey, household items and more. Organizations and companies also promoted themselves to visitors by handing out information or offering interactive experiences for people passing by.

Greg Newman, executive director of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce, values the generational legacy of ClovisFest. Newman encourages families and friends to attend the event and observe the different cultures and traditions.

“This is a celebration of Clovis, our cultures and way of life,” Newman said. “Right now you can hear the wonderful music in the background at our International Village where we’re celebrating the different cultures that make up our community.

“This event is really a celebration of our community,” Newman continued. “It’s free, and a great opportunity for the attendees to come out and experience the Clovis way of life.” 

The event offered free parking and free entry, as people crowded in from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. An estimated amount of 20,000 people attended this year. 

In the following tweet, The Feather shares what makes up ClovisFest including food, vendors, rides and more.

The aroma of churros, burritos, cinnamon rolls, kettle corn and other fair foods enticed guests as they meandered through the International Village and lines of booths. Food trucks like Sweeties, well-known by the FC community, offered treats for kids and adults alike. 

Anisah Abdullahi visitor of ClovisFest, enjoyed seeing the community congregate at the event. Abdullahi supported her brother as he performed on the International Village stage with the Polynesian Club of Fresno.

“I think it’s important that people come visit ClovisFest,” Abdullahi said. “You can see all these different cultures and the performances. It’s so unique that you can come and learn about all these different types of cultures that you probably wouldn’t know are here in Clovis.”

Avery Jones | The Feather Online

Feather editor-in-chief Addison Schultz, ’21, and photo editor Avery Jones, ’20, covered ClovisFest from the sky as they soared over Fresno in a Starlite Balloon, Oct. 26.

Organized by the Clovis Chamber of Commerce, ClovisFest is sponsored by Table Mountain Casino while the Hot Air Balloon Fun Fly is sponsored by Nobel Credit Union. The Fun Fly, located at the Clovis Rodeo grounds, featured 10 different balloons taking flight over the Fresno/Clovis area, launching at 8 a.m.

Acting CEO/President at the Fresno Convention & Visitors Bureau Layla Forstedt takes pride in the festival’s cultural diversity. She shares her perspective on the unification of the community through ClovisFest.

“The International Village is the whole new area sectioned off,” Forstedt said. “It shows people our cultural diversity here at ClovisFest. It shows people we have so many different cultures, food, talent and dancing, we are proud of that and want to promote that to the world.”

Besides craft and commercial vendors, the Fresno/Clovis Convention & Visitors Bureau ClovisFest International Village included specialty booths showcasing cultures of the community. Along with these booths, 20 cultural programs and dance studios performed on a stage located at the end of the line of booths.

In the following podcast, Morgan Parker interviews Greg Newman about Clovis Fest and the impact it makes on the community.

Linda Kuma from the Polynesian Club of Fresno shares the importance of their presence at ClovisFest. The Polynesian Club has shared their culture with the Valley for 44 years.

“We’re here showing things we love about our culture and introducing what we do,” Kuma said, “I think it’s important for people to visit our booth because everybody needs a place to belong, you need to know who you are in this world. Nothing but good comes from learning about other cultures and learning to appreciate them, seeing that we are actually the same.”

The media partner/sponsor iHeartRadio, including other local stations, provided tunes for the event. The Michelob ULTRA Beer Garden, sectioned off for adults, featured live performances by local bands and music groups. 

Youth-friendly activities occupied 5th street as children rode around with their parents and guardians in a colorful train. Rides, carnival-type games and inflatables kept kids entertained as the festivities proceeded.

Morgan Parker

Inflatables, trains and petting zoos covered 5th street as children participated with their parents in the ClovisFest activities.

A representative of the Sikh Women’s Organization of Central California, Tejinder Purewal, enjoyed meeting the different people of ClovisFest. Purewal shares the impact of learning about different cultures.

“We hope to tell some people coming by about our faith,” Purewal said, “who we are, our culture, our heritage, what makes us different, and to learn about other people. We’ve visited twice before and hope to continue the tradition. I think it is important to come out, meet our neighbors and find out about each other, finding what we have in common, not what’s different.”

Barnyard animals were available in the petting zoo for visitors to brush and touch. The younger crowd could be seen riding miniature ponies and hopping on rides.

Rachel Kibber performed the Irish step dance with the California Arts Academy’s Celtic Motion Dance Company, Oct. 26. Kibber enjoyed attending ClovisFest and learning about the different cultures in the Central Valley.

“We love sharing our dance and our culture around the Valley,” Kibber said. “We have such a strong culture here. It’s nice to come and learn about all the different cultures that Fresno has to offer, we have so many and it’s nice to see everyone come together and have a good time. I love seeing all of the other dancers as well.”

ClovisFest continues to draw thousands of people to the Clovis area, exposing visitors and locals to the cultural diversity of the Central Valley. Whether in watching the hot air balloon launch or strolling through the International Village, the Clovis/Fresno community unites through this local celebration.

For another article on ClovisFest, check out Feather journalists soar over the Valley, cover ClovisFest Fun Fly and Clovis hosts 44th annual ClovisFest, Oct. 27-28. For other articles read, Year of the Student Journalist Concludes, young voices speak out and “Stranger Things” star Joe Keery releases first album.

Morgan Parker can be reached via email and via Twitter.

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