By Tova Fruchtman: CNJ staff writer
Peanut farmers, arts and crafts vendors and student organizations come out of their shells every fall to attend the Peanut Valley Festival, which after 31 years has become as traditional in Portales as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in an elementary student’s lunch bag.
“I think everyone will find something they will enjoy,” said Jeff Blake, programming coordinator at Eastern New Mexico University
and a major organizer of the event.
One aspect Blake is excited about is the student organization fair.
“I think it’s bigger this year than it has been in a long time,” he said. “There are a lot more original ideas as far as fundraisers.”
Tethered hot air balloon rides, demonstrations from Clovis Police Department dogs and chances to take a whack at a car during a car bash are just some of the fundraisers different campus organizations will be running during the festival.
Other activities include: Paint ball shooting galleries, where people will shoot targets instead of each other; fair food, including Navajo tacos, turkey legs and funnel cakes; and live entertainment, the Nata Raja Dancers and a strolling guitar duo.
The Peanut Valley Festival began as an arts and crafts bazaar on the downtown square in Portales in the 1970s, according to a press release from ENMU. The arts and crafts show is still a major part of the event. This year, the show will be organized by Staci Fraley, who has been commissioned by ENMU to organize it for the past four years.
Over 100 arts and crafts vendors will be selling a variety of items including chili, horseshoe and saw blade art; hand-poured, votive and jar candles; fishing rod holders; angel pins; ornate crosses; Southwestern jewelry; and hand and body scrubs, according to a press release from Fraley.
Blake said the show is a great place to start your Christmas shopping.
“I think (you) can find gifts that are a lot more personal,” he said. “The kind of things you just don’t find everyday in your normal retail store.”
The Peanut Valley Festival was planned to coincide with the annual peanut harvest so the local farmers and peanut companies are also involved.
An attendee at almost every festival, Garvin Chandler of Portales, said he has been farming peanuts since the 1940s. He said the Peanut Valley Festival has been helping peanut farmers since it started 30 years ago.
“It promotes the peanut industry. Anything that promotes peanut sales helps the farmer,” he said.
The peanut festival is a great place for farmers to get information, Chandler said. “There’s many ideas shared from consumers as well as producers.”
There will be plenty of peanuts to taste this year.
“Peanuts are quite a commodity,” he said. “I think peanuts are one of the more reliable crops this year.”
This year Chandler said he will be able to enjoy some of the sights, like the windmill exhibits and the old farm equipment.
“It’s like a football game lift. It’s togetherness. It’s reuniting old friends. It’s quite a joyous time.” Chandler said.