The 84th Annual Big Hat Days festival took over downtown Clovis this past weekend. The event ran down Pollasky Avenue. to Third Street and all the way to Ninth Street.
Crowds filled the streets including booths selling products from wind chimes, food and drink and of course, hats.
Each day produced barely penetrable walkways throughout the streets. People enjoyed dancing in the beer garden, they spoke to each other with smiles on their faces and relief in their sunglass-covered eyes. Relief rooting in the lengthened response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attendees lined up to purchase foods and products and laughs were enjoyed through the sips of straws and cold soft drinks. One couldn’t help but be immersed in the jubilation of a city while also taking the moment to observe the collective sigh of a community.
“There are so many people,” said Clovis Chamber of Commerce Membership Director Diana Hunnicutt. “We haven’t had a [weekend] like this in a while.”
Hunnicutt explained that the large crowds were mostly due to people being confined to their homes for so long due to COVID-19. This was a sentiment that was reiterated by a number of other vendors and patrons around the Big Hat Days event.
“I just wanted to get out of the house and go out and be around people,” was a sentence that was heard from multiple explorers of Big Hat Days. Being able to surround themselves in the presence of others really overcame the normal every-year festivities. “I think we all just missed going out to places,” said one visitor.
Vendors from around the event were happy just to be able to see people back, walking into and out of their tents. Businesses like California Hats Company, Summit Spinners, Munch ‘n’ Grub and Floor & Decor shared this sentiment.
“We have a lot of variety out here which is nice, people of all walks. Kids, parents, grandparents, everyone’s very friendly,” said one employee from Floor and Decor, a tile installation company new to Fresno County. “They’re welcoming us very nicely.”
Board of Directors member for the Clovis Chamber of Commerce Ellie Huston spoke on the number of businesses in attendance for the event.
“It’s just so nice to see people smiling,” Huston said. “If you just get people involved, you know they stay involved.”
Huston’s sense of the businesses involved in this year’s event revolves around her experiences from past years in which she has experienced Big Hat Day firsthand.
“It really is an explosion of people, and businesses in their booths have been killing it for both days,” said Hunnicutt.