New plans for old festival

Alisa Boswell

Mid-October has arrived, which means Eastern New Mexico University is hosting the 38th annual Peanut Valley Festival, which according to ENMU and the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce officials, will have a bigger variety than it has in the last two to three years.

Officials said the chamber is once again teaming up with the university after about a three-year break.

“There used to be paid entertainment and we just sort of got away from that and now we’re just trying to get back to it,” said Angela Ayers, ENMU interim director for Campus Life. “We are extremely grateful to the chamber for taking on that part of the arrangements. It was wonderful.”

Ayers said the last two to three years of the festival, there has been some small entertainment, such as a musician wandering the festival with a guitar, a group of belly dancers and a petting zoo.

This year, the festival will include two musicians and two groups of belly dancers performing on the Dallan Sanders Patio behind ENMU’s Campus Union Building from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday while a petting zoo is in front of the building, along with games for children.

“A lot of the games we are going to try to gear towards peanuts and the Peanut Valley Festival,” said Chamber Promotions Director Sandy Van Der Veen. ”For games, we will have a stick horse race, a peanut toss, peanut-in-a-spoon race, a race where you push a peanut with your nose and a peanut sack race.”

Ayers said the university expects this year to be fun and family oriented with a variety of crafts offered.

“I just hope everyone comes out and enjoys it,” Ayers said. “It’s a good time to do early Christmas shopping. I think it will be fun.”

Ayers said there will also be a pumpkin trade in front of the CUB where local residents can get a pumpkin for donating three cans of food to the New Mexico Food Bank. There will also be food vendors with turkey legs, funnel cakes, roasted corn, barbecue and more.

Ayers said 51 craft vendors have signed up to participate in the event so far this year and she is getting more every day.

“There are people who will be providing new and different things,” Ayers said. “We are trying to get back to doing just hand-crafted items. There are a few non-handcrafted items still, because a few people who have always come will be coming back, like the sheets vendor, but anyone new coming, we’re telling handcrafted items only, so there should be more of that every year.”

Chamber of Commerce Director Karl Terry said it is not yet set that the chamber will be involved again next year, but they were happy to be this year.

“Our board wanted to do it,” Terry said. “They’re interested in making sure the festival is a good community event and they wanted to help ENMU out.”