As the crowd watched expectantly in the cool morning air, the whoosh of propane burners did their job. One by one, hot air balloons glided gracefully overhead, and spectators cheered as the 43rd ClovisFest got underway.
“This is really awesome,” a little boy said watching the balloons soar overhead. “One day I want to ride in one and see if I can make it go real fast.”
As they have done for the past 28 years, the Kaiser Permanente & Moore Than SEO Hot Air Balloon Fun Fly marked the start of ClovisFest 2017. In order to take advantage of cooler temperatures, the dates were changed this year to the weekend of Oct. 28 and 29. The balloon liftoff took place around 7 a.m. each morning from the Clovis Rodeo Grounds.
The public was invited to watch the balloons inflate beginning at 6:15 a.m. and even had the opportunity to experience floating up and down in a balloon tethered to the ground, courtesy of RE/MAX. Afterward, breakfast was provided by the Old Town Clovis Kiwanis Club and the booths opened in Old Town.
ClovisFest is an annual event presented by the Clovis Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Table Mountain Casino. Over the years, participants have increased along with the interest of the community.
This is the second year the Sol-Tek Solar International Village has been part of ClovisFest. It has grown to over 30 local cultural groups that bring the community together by presenting multi-cultural music, dance performances, arts, crafts and ethnic foods. Informational booths provided further community outreach.
“The International Village has been a great addition to ClovisFest,” said Diana Hunnicutt, Clovis Chamber of Commerce Membership Director. “We are always looking to add new attractions, and there may be an opportunity to add other educational events in the future.”
In addition to the over 200 craft and commercial vendor booths, the International Village had live stage performances at 7th Street and Pollasky throughout the two days. The audiences were charmed by the music and dancing by groups such as the Polynesian Club of Fresno, Iranian Culture and Art Club of Fresno, the Clovis Heiwa Taiko, the Celtic Motion Dance Company, Arabic Belly Dancing by Andalee, Hmong Cultural Heritage Center & Museum, Halau Hula Ka La, and others.
“This is fun way to learn about other cultures,” said Todd Minton from Coarsegold. “You can take your time and see a lot of different stuff. I even got some things that I want to give as gifts. The holidays are just around the corner, you know.”
ClovisFest covered over four city blocks and included a family carnival and All Valley Car Show. There was something for everyone – in culture, crafts, entertainment and cuisine.
“Typically, we average over 100,000 visitors over the two days,” said Hunnicutt.