Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
Every year in late October, the town of Portales uses the Eastern New Mexico University campus to go a little nuts. This year, there is also a chance to turn back the clock.
The Office of Student Activities and Organizations at ENMU is putting on the 32nd annual Peanut Valley Festival this weekend. The annual crafts show, held at the Campus Union Building Saturday and Sunday, is moving toward its original appeal with numerous vendors.
“We’re getting back to our roots, and that’s something I’m excited about,” said Jeff Blake, the director of the activities office. “We’re trying to go back to more handmade items.”
Along with the many arts and crafts available for purchase, the festival will feature food, entertainment and health.
The university’s health services department is going to host a health fair Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Carol Morgan, the nurse manager at the Portales Public Health Office, said the festival is an ideal location for a health fair because of a built-in audience of all ages and health conditions.
“We’ll see kids for hearing and vision screens, we’ll have people who have never seen a chiropracter.”
Morgan advises people come to the health fair early, as Clovis Community College students will administer flu shots at the fair. La Casa representatives will also be holding educational programming.
Entertainment at the Ground Zero coffee shop will include the Lindsey Elementary honor choir, Allie Brooks and Shem Peachey and the Nata Raja belly dancers. Blake said Andy Mason and Brackston Taylor will roam around the festival grounds and perform impromptu musical performances.
Another feature will be the Van of Enchantment, a recreational vehicle converted by the state department of cultural affairs into a museum of New Mexico history.
However, the crowds will be there mainly for the arts and crafts available, ranging from pocket change to upwards of $500 in price.
“We’re leaning towards kind of a western flair,” said Alex Hamzy of On the Road Ranch Shows, the promotional company putting the festival together. “We want high-end with a really good value.”
Hamzy is no stranger to the festival. Before opening OTR Ranch Shows a year ago, his family’s canning company had maintained a booth at the festival for two years. Hamzy said the WHH Ranch Company will have a booth at this year’s festival to sell a variety of jellies and “Cowboy Candy” — sweetened and canned jalapeno peppers.
Hamzy’s booth won’t be the only one — not by a long shot.
“As of (Monday) morning, it was 105 (commitments) on paper,” Blake said. “I expect there will be 15 or 20 more. It’s going to be bigger than last year, no doubt.”
Hamzy said he had joked with his family members that his phone hadn’t stopped ringing all morning Monday, and only a few seconds later he was called by the News-Tribune for the interview.
“At some point today,” Hamzy said, “I’m having to say, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I can’t get any more people in.’
More of a focus was made to get local groups in for this year’s festival, Hamzy said, as calls for vendors were placed in Portales two weeks before calls went to surrounding areas.