Ethnic fair offers chance to learn about cultures

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Members of the Flamenco Nuevo Mejico Dance Company entertain the crowd during Saturday’s Ethic Fair along Main Street. The fair included numerous performances, food, a car show and miscellaneous vendors.

Kevin Wilson

It was a chance to look, a chance to listen and a chance to learn as both a sun-filled day and the annual Ethnic Fair descended upon Clovis Saturday.

The annual event, in its 19th go-round, drew hundreds who came and went through a three-block stretch of Main Street, which organizer Selmus Price hoped included something for everybody’s taste.

“It’s intended for the whole family,” said Price, the chairman of the Clovis Ethnic/Cultural Arts Committee. “That’s one of the (points of) emphasis, to provide activities for families.”

There was plenty to see, with a car show that included entrants as close as Clovis and as far as Houston.

There was also plenty to hear, with flamenco bands, African drum beats and Native American dancers from out of town to join the efforts of local schools.

Price, speaking at noon, was pleased that he got to see performances from the Arts Academy at Bella Vista and Marshall Middle School, and also got a chance to introduce new Clovis Schools Superintendent Terry Myers.

“It’s very important,” Price said of the role of education in the fair. “That was one of the main reasons we moved things to accommodate the schedules for schools here.”

The crowds got plenty to eat, as well, with a fair gamut including roasted corn and potato chips sliced and fried on site.

Most important for some of the presenters, though, was the ability to touch.

Fred Hampton of the Buffalo Soldiers Society of New Mexico said at his table, situated about 10 yards from the main performance stage, it’s always interesting to see the reactions when strollers-by are told the drums, clothing and weapons on display aren’t replicas.

“Both adults and kids only see this stuff behind glass in museums,” Hampton said. “They can see it and feel it here. They’re being charged up, and they want to learn more.”

Hampton, the designated leader on Saturday, was the only white member of the Buffalo Soldiers group — a reference to the early days of the soldiers, when commanders didn’t trust African Americans to lead units.

The group, Hampton said, exists to reduce the blur between fiction and reality that results from the romanticization of America’s history.

“We find, first of all, information on the Buffalo Soldiers for most people is incorrect,” he said. “We become the conduit for what really happened in the southwest and Mexico.”

The fair concluded Saturday with an amateur talent show.