Ethnic fair learning experience

There was plenty to see and hear Saturday at Hillcrest Park, the former and now current home of the annual Clovis Ethnic Fair.

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson

Zambian singer Maureen Lupo Lilanda entertains the Clovis Ethnic Fair crowd Saturday morning with her rendition of Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry."

But beyond the dances, the music, the booths and the talent show, it was clear that there was plenty that could be learned as well.

Hundreds came and went throughout the day at Hillcrest Park, some new to Clovis and some very familiar.

Put Andrew Perkins in the familiar category. The Amarillo resident is a Clovis native, and comes back every year to socialize and help out his family. Perkins' uncle, Hezekiah Shirley, is pastor at Agape Love Ministries.

The timing of the fair was moved from September to July to take advantage of a visiting delegation from Zambia — including officials of Kasama, a Zambian city in a cultural exchange program with Clovis.

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson

Members of the Santa Fe-based Flamenco Nuevo Mexico dance group perform Saturday afternoon at the Clovis Ethnic Fair at Hillcrest Park.

"This feels like a nicer time (for the fair)," Perkins said. "My favorite part of the ethnic fair is the car show, looking at the old-fashioned cars."

The visitors from Zambia — a southeastern African nation that's significantly farther from Clovis than Amarillo — had plenty to learn about Clovis over the weekend, including samples of local cuisine and a trip to the High Plains Junior Rodeo Finals.

Charles Mumba, a band member for Zambian singer Maureen Lilanda, said being part of the fair was an incredible learning experience.

"This is a great honor to me," Mumba said as the Dineh Tah Navajo Dancers performed. "I also visited the Billy the Kid Monument. I used to think this was all fiction, and then I came here. Now, today, I'm seeing this."

Event coordinator Selmus Price, chairman of the city's ethnic affairs committee, said that while entertainment gets the biggest spotlight, it's education that keys the fair — now in its 21st year.

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson

Zambian band member James Mumba plays guitar for Maureen Lupo Lilanda Saturday morning at the Clovis Ethnic Fair. Mumba was one of more than a dozen guests from Zambia during the fair held at Hillcrest Park.

Shawn Price, who leads the Navajo dance group and no relation to Selmus, said the act is a performance of education and of self-discovery.

"With our traditions, dance is something that reminds us of very important things, that we're a part of something greater than ourselves," Shawn Price said. "Our dancing connects us and reminds us of that."

Price said it's an honor for the group to be at the ethnic fair, as he admitted that the ethnic affairs committee could select nearly any Native American group to take part and stays with the Albuquerque-based Dineh Teh Navajo group every year.

Selmus Price said the decision to move the fair from Main Street to Hillcrest Park seemed to be a positive change, especially with the splash pad giving free admission and grass instead of asphalt and brick.

"It's a nice change," Price said. "I think that everyone can enjoy the fair more, without dealing with the heat."

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