How Big Can It Get?

The Chamber staff is still recovering from the incredible experience of hosting Table Mountain Casino BIG Hat Days on April 5th and 6th. They can report without hesitation, that it had the absolutely largest crowds in the event’s history. People hiked in for miles from the nearest streets as every nook and cranny was taken as a parking space.

When we arrived in the wee hours of Saturday morning, there was a lot of concern about the temperature for the day. It was really cold and we were shivering. Slowly vendors and support staff started arriving and the hustle and bustle of preparing for the largest festival in the Central Valley took our minds off the chills.

Mother Nature kept the heaters off until late morning and the crowds were thin. But within an hour, everything changed and once again, we knew we had a great event going on. The streets were packed, the lines were long at the food booths and the craft vendors were busy selling their wares. The afternoon crowds more than made up for the scant morning numbers.

By the time the last visitors left on late Sunday afternoon, we saw exhausted vendors with big smiles on their faces as they counted their take for the two days. Many were already going online to see if they could sign up for next year’s event. They’re just going to have to wait a bit as Events Coordinator Tammi Walton recovers from this year’s festival.

Many people commented about the high quality of the craft merchandise this year. With the reputation as one of the top festivals in the country, BIG Hat Days attracts hundreds more vendors than we can use. Tammi is able to choose only the best that was apparent by the selection this year. She knows that there will be many more applying next year for the same spaces so she’s gearing up for a lot of hard work coming soon.

Sales in the Bullard Food Court were higher as people had the largest selection of menu items we’ve ever had. The place was packed as they waited patiently in line for their favorite faire. The new drink sensation, Texas Twister, at 4th and Pollasky had a never ending line as did Sweetie’s Candy who sold cotton candy. Add Wende’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream, Fruitopia chocolate covered fruit and marshmallows and kettle korn and we have a very popular sweet treats intersection.

We have heard from many parents about the kid’s entertainment this year. With free admission, a clean and safe environment, it has become a child’s playground. The Great American Petting Zoo and Water Ballerz giant bubbles on 4th Street were crowded all day as was the Happy Days Pony Rides on 7th Street. But the big action was at the carnival in the DMV lot. Manager Don Mauer pulled out all the stops to bring clean, safe, exciting rides. All you had to do was look up at the double ferris wheel that was constantly filled and hear the squeals of delight to know there was something special going on. He reports it was one of his most successful events in years.

This year we decided to add a second beer garden with live bands to ease the long lines at our original garden on Bullard. Donaghy Sales and Michelob Ultra provided the arrangements and the volunteers and it looks like we have another winner on our hands. With Country music being played on Bullard and Classic Rock at the 4th Street garden, we were able to accommodate thousands more visitors. Next year we anticipate even more crowds at the second garden as people become more acquainted with its location.

Although BIG Hat Days is hosted by the Clovis Chamber of Commerce, we must once again acknowledge the incredible assistance from so many people. We start with or sponsors, Table Mountain Casino, Bud Light and Pepsi whose contributions have made this event grown so much.

Special kudos to our media partners at Clear Channel radio, home of PowerTalk, that endless promotion spots on their 7, top rated stations that reaches the largest media audience in the Central Valley.

The Fresno Bee and KAIL also provide a shared promotional effort with print and television ads.

Great big thanks to the boy scout troops who arrive early Saturday morning and don’t leave until late Sunday night making sure that every scrap of trash is carefully picked up and put away. We often hear how much people appreciated the cleanliness of our events.

But the biggest thanks go to the city of Clovis and the public safety departments. They work closely with us to provide a safe environment for all our visitors. We meet several times before each event so we’re all working together. They have a comforting presence at our shows that helps maintain a calm atmosphere for the entire family.

The Clovis Chamber is proud to present BIG Hat Days and ClovisFest in September. They are an important tradition for the community that adds to our valued Way of Life. It’s easy to see why Clovis ranks number one as the Best City to raise a Young Family.

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