Festival – USA

“The Fall Festival. So it started way back in the day. Newman is an agricultural community and way, probably a long time ago. Back then it was really big because it was in the middle of walnut and almond fields. And so most of the people who live there are ranchers and so when harvest season came around, the town would gather because the town was really small. And they would celebrate the harvest. And there’s always a parade. And they have a Miss Newman contest, Little Mister and Miss Newman. And they get to ride in the parade. And all the different shop owners and stuff have their own float type thing. The fire department pulls out the trucks with a bunch of candy handed out. Originally, it was booths with the harvest stuff and now it’s whoever wants to set up a booth. It’s kind of like a little mini flea market. Now there’s a bunch of deep-fried everything, Chinese food, Mexican food, and kettle corn. The FFA has their contest because they have to raise animals. They take them to the fair and win contests. Usually they win. There’s also a Bud Light stand, where most of the guys between 21 and 30 are. And they have the festival at the city park and they’ll close off the street. And they’ll have like rides. It’s kind of a little mini carnival with a Ferris wheel. They’ll have a section for the little kids and another section with a few rides. It’s like the town’s main event and everyone usually turns up.”

Ariana was born in northern California, but moved to Newman (also located in northern California) in 1998. Every year since she has lived at Newman, she makes an annual trip with either her friends and/or family to the festival. The town is extremely small and the population is about 7,000 people. Usually there are not any other major city events besides the fall festival that is held every year.

The festival is a community-oriented celebration that is target to people of all ages. Ariana said that because the town is so small, the fall festival is usually one of the biggest events of the year. It takes place annually in September and the whole town is usually in attendance. Originally meant to celebrate the harvest, the festival draws its roots from the city’s agricultural history. Ariana said that much of the town is still rural, but a majority of residents commute to work instead of work in farming. However, after several years of celebrating the fall festival, it has become a town tradition.

Ariana said that the festival was especially fun when she was young, because everything was new. However, after years of going, she feels that it gets boring because it is the same thing every year. The town is so small that everyone knows each other, and going to the festival is just seeing the same people she sees everyday congregated into one area. She said that usually the attractions and booths are the same, and people just go to pass the time away.

Although now the festival has generally lost its original meaning and is really being thrown every year for the sake of carrying on tradition, I think that residents still consider their agricultural history as part of the Newman identity. Mrs., Miss, and Mister Newman on floats embody the small town. Having businesses showcase themselves through floats also reaffirms Newman identity. The time of celebration is especially important because it indicates the beginning of fall and marks the harvest season. The floats, food, and rides are all modern conveniences that have been added to resemble a fair, but the original purpose is not lost because the festival is still a way for residents to connect to their town’s history.