Peanut festival in 40th year

By Christina Calloway

PNT senior writer

ccalloway@pntonline.com

In its 40th year, the Peanut Valley Festival is going back to its roots this weekend at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds.

At one time, peanut farmers labeled the Valencia peanut the “golden egg” of Roosevelt County. But over the years, production has decreased because the crop has a high water demand.

Christina Calloway: Portales News-Tribune Liane Schmidt, left, and Debbi Clark, center, of First Financial Credit Union look at a few pieces entered in the 2013 High Plains Quilt Festi- val. First Financial Credit Union sponsored this year’s festival. Also pictured is organizer Elizabeth Lawrence.

Christina Calloway: Portales News-Tribune
Liane Schmidt, left, and Debbi Clark, center, of First Financial Credit Union look at a few pieces entered in the 2013 High Plains Quilt Festi-
val. First Financial Credit Union sponsored this year’s festival. Also pictured is organizer Elizabeth Lawrence.

Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce Director and organizer of the event, Karl Terry, said the importance of the peanut in Roosevelt County will be revisited through education.

“We’re excited to get back to the roots of it,” Terry said. “Peanuts may not be as big of the agricultural economy as they once were, but we wanted to bring it back to our heritage.”

But the festival is certainly much more than the history behind the crop. A variety of activities for the whole family will be featured including live entertainment, a 5K run, peanut art in the Goober Gallery and a food fair to name a few.

Terry said there will be plenty of local acts, covering everything from blues and country to rock.

“I’m excited about Theta Ainsworth; she’s got a band called 9 Mile Creek. Anybody that’s been around here remembers when she was an itty bitty with a big voice,” Terry said. “It will just blow you away.”

The Blackwater Band headlines Saturday night and Will Banister and the Mulberry Band, who Terry says always packs a crowd, will close Sunday.

There are 125 vendors this year, about the same as last year’s festival. There will also be a health fair on Saturday and flu shots will be given until 1 p.m.

But even with all of the festive happenings, the community’s recent loss of local peanut processor Sunland Inc., after the company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, has been a hard one for the festival.

Sunland was a large sponsor of the festival but had to pull out after its closure. The nation’s largest organic peanut butter processor closed its doors after 25 years, citing the fiscal impact of a voluntary product recall and government-enforced shutdown after its products were tied to a national salmonella outbreak that caused 41 illnesses in 20 states.

“It’s tough for the peanut business but they’re a pretty hardy bunch,” Terry said. “We’ll have to see what happens after the bankruptcy with the (company’s) plants.”

Christina Calloway: Portales News-Tribune Organizers of this year’s High Plain Quilt Festival said there are more than 200 entries this year, including wearable pieces, such as these vests pictured here.

Christina Calloway: Portales News-Tribune
Organizers of this year’s High Plain Quilt Festival said there are more than 200 entries this year, including wearable pieces, such as these vests pictured here.

He added musician Andy Mason will be taking up a collection for the 100 laid-off employees of Sunland at the festival on Sunday.

Wayne Baker, a member of Sunland’s board and the New Mexico Peanut Growers Association, said the group plans to continue the Valencia industry here.

“We plan to keep the research going and we feel confident we can do that; we just want to keep the peanuts here,” Baker said. “(Sunland’s closure) is certainly a negative factor but we just have to keep our head up and go forward. The festival will be a good one.”

2013 High Plains Quilt Festival

The 2013 High Plains Quilt Festival, taking place today and Saturday, has more than 200 entries featured.

Elizabeth Lawrence, one of the festival’s organizers, said the entries have a huge variety and come from all over the state and surrounding states as well.

“The quality is going up every year and we’re drawing from a wider geographic area,” Lawrence said.

The festival also features a silent auction with many hand-made pieces, classes, a panel discussion and vendors.

This year’s featured quilter is Laura Hyatt of Santa Fe, who had a rough beginning with quilting as a child but eventually worked her way up to earning many blue ribbons, according to organizers. Hyatt has taught quilting classes in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

This year’s honored quilter is 90-year-old Laura Merrick of Portales. Quilting began as a necessity for her as a child which turned into a passion. Merrick leads the pack of quilters with her insistence on painstakingly quilting each by hand, according to organizers.

Peanut Valley Festival

When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday

Where: Roosevelt County Fairgrounds

Admission: Free

Parking will be located on Boston Avenue

Information: 356-8541.

Entertainment schedule

Saturday

10:30 a.m.: S.W. School of Dance

11 a.m.: Colton Hardy

Noon: Portales Recreation Center

1 p.m.: 9 Mile Creek

2 p.m.: Funk Fusion

2-4 p.m.: 9 Mile Creek

4-7 p.m.: Blackwater Band

Sunday

11 a.m.: Andy Mason

12:30 p.m.: Spiritual Journey

1:30 p.m.: Foley Bluegrass

3-5 p.m.: Will Banister and the Mulberry Band

2013 High Plains Quilt Festival schedule

Friday- Exhibits are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Mini classes: All mini classes are free and held in the McAlister Room of the Jake Lopez Building

10 a.m.: Vendor demo with The Country Store of Lovington

11 a.m.: Panel discussion on quilting

Noon: Bindings with Elizabeth Lawrence

1 p.m.: Vendor demo with Down Home Quilts of Dumas, Texas

2 p.m.: Vendor demo with The Sewing Basket

3 p.m.: Vendor demo with Sew Easy Sewing

Saturday- Exhibits are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

9 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Class: “Scrapbook Quilting” with Lou Sikes at the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce (registration is required)

9 a.m. to noon: Junior class: “Not Your Normal Quilt” with Cinde Ebeling at the Roosevelt County Extension Office (registration required)

Mini classes: All mini classes are free and held in the McAlister Room of the Jake Lopez Building

10 a.m.: Vendor demo with The Country Store of Lovington

11 a.m.: Ergonomics for quilters with Amanda Hargis

Noon: Wooden quilting accessories with Bobby Swinney

1 p.m.: Half-square triangles with Beth Franks

2 p.m.: Preparing your quilt for longarm quilting with Linda Custer

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