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Annual Big Hat Days in Old Town Clovis Big Hat Days in Clovis, CA
 
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Annual Big Hat Days in Old Town Clovis of Central California
By JoAnne Green

Spring season and Old Town Clovis have one thing in common -- Big Hat Days Celebration. The second weekend in each April, the community comes together for two days to celebrate one of biggest festivals of the year in Clovis.

This year, Big Hat Days were held on April 10th & 11th. Each day, thousands of fairgoers weaved through and lingered at the booths of several hundred vendors of crafts, arts, clothing, hats (including, of course, big hats), foods, and much more. Not only were there thousands of fairgoers from the City of Clovis, surrounding towns in the Central Valley, and throughout California, but there were also many fairgoers and vendors from other parts of the United States.

Like many fairgoers, one of my favorite things at festivals is always the food. So naturally, I went directly to the food alley on Sunday around 11:30 a.m. It was a pleasant surprise to see that even though it was a pretty cloudy day, the food alley was packed with fair food lovers. All of my senses were activated  immediately by the variety of wonderful food aromas, the sight of so many people lined up at every booth, and the buzzing sounds of blended chats exchanged among food vendors and the fairgoers. Everyone seemed to be very busy and very happy. I decided to talk to some food vendors to find out how the tough economy affected their business. Here are some of the surprising responses I heard from the food vendors:

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Jeff of Dai Bai Dang Asian Street Cafe in Fresno, said that business was great on Saturday and good on Sunday. It was the first time for Dai Bai Dang participating at Big Hat Days.

Bassam Dakduk, owner of B. Food Int'L, San Jacinto, CA, 4th year at this festival. Philly Cheese Steak, Falafel, and Hot Links looked really good at her booth. She also said that business was great on Saturday and good on Sunday.

It was easy to spot Paul B. Melton's booth, Bushrod's Western Barbecue, from a distance as the aromatic BBQ smoke was floating in the air. His customers got the delicious-looking ribs right off the hot grill. Paul's catering company is in Fresno. He has served his BBQ at Big Hat Days for eight years. He said that the business was good this year.

Fred Tatman, owner of Earthly Delights, Half Moon Bay, CA, 4th year at this festival. The Philly Cheese Steak and Parmesan Garlic Fries looked and smelled so good at his booth. He also said that the business was good this year.

Kim Sander's Taste of Paradise had set up a Hawaiian-style hut to serve Hawaiian-style shaved ice, gourmet coffee drinks, and fresh fruit smoothies. Kim, a Clovis resident, has participated in Big Hat Days for five years. She said that business was still good this year, and like all of the others, her booth was very busy.

Funnel Cakes, hand-dipped Polish dogs, and fresh potato chips and onion rings at Katherine's Concessions were among the popular food items at Big Hat Days. Katherine's Concessions is family catering business based in Reedley, CA. Sam, Desiree, Taylor, and several other family members have worked the booth at this festival for twelve years. Sam said that business was great on Saturday and good on Sunday.

Thai Food from AC Market, Fresno, CA, offered egg rolls, chicken rice bowl, teriyaki chicken sticks. Thanomchit was working at the booth. It was his company's first year participating at Big Hat Days. He also said that business was great on Saturday and good on Sunday.

Georges Trinchan, Executive Chef of Trinchan Fresh Bistro in Fresno, offered BBQ Brazilian- style pepper steak, chicken legs, Brazilian rice, and Brazilian black bean stew. These dishes looked, smelled, and tasted delicious. Georges said that it was his first year at Big Hat Days and it was busy for his booth on Saturday.

As usual, there was a long line at the Olde Tyme Kettle Korn booth. Brian Vang & Jeanie Xiong are owners. Jeanie said that her company has participated in Big Hat Days for ten years. She said that business was good on both days.

Peggy Sears makes all of the gourmet jams, jellies, and pickles for the booth of Jammin' JAMS. This company is based in Mariposa, CA. Russell Juan, sales person, said that Jammin' JAMS has came to Big Hat Days for three years. He also agreed with the owners of Olde Tyme Kettle Korn that business was good on both days.

Bob Collins and Norb Moniz, Sr., are the owners of Roasted Sweet Corn, The Corn Specialist Company. They were really busy husking corn and roasting it as fast as the corn lovers lined up at the booth. Bob and Norb said that business was good on both days. At this booth, I met Bryan Collin, Bob's nephew, who was from upstate New York. He was vacationing here and helping out with husking corn at this festival. Bryan said that he liked Clovis because it reminded him of his home town, and that he enjoyed Big Hat Days very much.

Turtle Apples, Rocky Road Apples, M&M Apples, Apple Pie Apples, Almond Toffe Apples Oreo Apples, Bare Naked Apples, Ultimate Dark Apples were the names of the many types of beautiful and delicious-looking gourmet caramel apples at the booth of Delilah's. Delilah Martinez, owner, said that this was her first time participating in Big Hat Days and that business was good on both days.

Away from the food alley, the Clovis American Legion Cecil Cox Post 147 also did well with their concession at the Post patio on Big Hat Days this year. Over one hundred loaves of Gilroy-style garlic bread were sold out. They also sold out of their popular trip-tip sandwiches on Saturday and Sunday.

It was a pleasant surprise to see OceanSpray at Big Hat Days. It was the first time for OceanSpray to have its booth here. Fairgoers helped themselves to OceanSpray's four new flavors of juice and three new flavors of Craisins.

It was great to see all of the food vendors busy serving their food to their fans.

Let's talk about hats. After all, it was Big Hat Days. I was so delighted to spot thre e gracious ladies -- Victoria Howard, Holly Foley, and Toni Lookabill, who were strolling and mingling among the crowd. They were wearing beautifully designed hats that Sunday. Victoria's special pink hat has a pink flamingo on the rim. As a Fresno resident, she has come to Big Hat Days frequently. Holly has a red big-rimmed hat with red feathers. She lives in the Bay area and has come to Big Hat Days five times. Toni's red hat has a beautiful silver butterfly pinned on it. She also lives in the Bay area and has come to Big Hat Days five times. Victoria, Holly, and Toni said that they love the tradition of Big Hat Days and plan to attend as many Big Hat Days as they can.

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As far as pretty and fancy hats go, many people at Big Hat Days would agree that Linda Banzuelo has designed many beautiful and unique hats. Linda is owner of Pretty Fancy. It was amazing to see many elegant Victorian-style hats with all the fancy and lacy trimmings on them at Linda's booth. She said that some of her hats won the Kentucky Derby Hat Contest in Louisville, KY, in 2005 and 2006. She has participated in Big Hat Days for eight years and has developed a good following of many regular customers. Linda also said that business was very good on Saturday, and that she anticipated the same on Sunday.

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It was such a great pleasure for me to see so many smiles on the faces of fairgoers of all ages on Big Hat Days. What an enjoyable, family-fun affair!


Source: ExperienceClovis.com
Story, Photos, and Slide shows © JoAnne Green. All Rights Reserved.
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