Peanut Valley Festival features mixture of vendors, entertainment

By Karl Terry: Freedom Newspapers

Huge crowds took the opportunity to get a head start on their Christmas shopping Saturday at the 32nd annual Peanut Valley Festival in Portales.

“We’ve bought lots of things: dolls, jewelry, I got a flu shot,” said Sylvia Shot, of Clovis. “We don’t (ever) miss it, we really enjoy it.”

The festival, which continues from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at the Campus Union Building at Eastern New Mexico University, features food booths, a health fair, entertainment from a mix of local groups and a variety of arts and crafts booths with goods ranging from candles and country crafts to fine jewelry and art. New this year was a visit from the Van of Enchantment, a traveling history museum sponsored by the state’s department of cultural affairs.

Robin Wells was greeting festival-goers with a smile at the Portales Woman’s Club booth, where they were bartering the event’s namesake — Valencia peanuts grown this year in Roosevelt County.

“Every year we sell peanuts here as a fund-raiser for all our projects,” said Wells. “We love it because these are our home-grown products. This is what it’s all about — the peanut valley.”

Wells, who is originally from Kansas, is a recent member of the club and experiencing her first Peanut Valley Festival. “This community is wonderful,” she said.

Sherry Tyler and Gail Funk of Amarillo weren’t wasting any time in their crafts booth on the second-floor of the CUB as Tyler worked at a sewing machine and Funk did handwork while tending the booth.

“We like to stay busy, we don’t like sitting,” said Tyler. “This way people know we actually do our own stuff. We turn out a lot of special orders and it’s hard to keep up.”

The booth featured tissue holders that looked like little sofas with a variety of team and theme designs. They were also selling placemats, potholders and pillows.

“We’re doing pretty good,” said Tyler. “We’ve had a bunch of sales.”

Tyler says she and her mother, Cathy Maddox, have been coming to the Peanut Valley Festival for four years.

“Portales has always been a good show,” said Tyler. “We’re happy.”

Phyllis and Jim Landgrebe of Crowell, Texas had one of the more unique offerings at the festival: salt lamps. They were at the festival for the first time this year.

The lamps were made from salt which had turned to stone. The couple say they don’t mine the salt, but they do break the blocks into the pieces they use, mount them on a base and add the lamp. When lit, the lamp glows golden.

“These lamps are good for allergies and are a natural air cleaner,” said Phyllis Landgrebe.

A handout at their booth says the light passing through the salt creates large quantities of negative ions which rid the air of bacteria, smoke, dust and pollen.

Michael and Matthew Pearce, 7-year-old twins from Edgewood, were having a great time playing with the puppets they bought at the festival. Michael had named his puppet Dancer and Matthew’s had picked up the moniker Spotter.

“We came all the way up last night,” said Michael. “We’re going to watch our cousin dance (at the festival) tomorrow.”

Alex Hamzy, of On the Road Ranch Shows, which promotes the festival, said he was pleased with the turnout of both attendance and vendors.

“We have a lot of people in here,” said Hamzy.

“One of the complaints we’ve had in the past was local vendors couldn’t get into the festival,” said Hamzy. “We’ve got 15 Portales and Clovis area vendors. We’re happy to have them.”

Hamzy said there were close to 100 booths at this year’s festival.