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Hearty Harvest: Turnout surpasses organizers' hopes
If the level of participation in its first Harvest Festival is any indication of the event's future, Saturday's gathering of vendors and participants bodes well for Colusa.
Event organizer Stephanie Ponciano originally planned to have more than 20 vendors, but that estimate proved to be conservative. A total of 42 vendors — not including the children's bounce house and booths for Colusa's Fire and Police departments — filled the courtyard in front of the Colusa County Courthouse and lined the Sixth Street block between Jay and Market streets.
"We had to get creative to figure out where to put people and that was a good problem to have," said Vice Mayor Greg Ponciano, who helped his wife with planning the event. "It's great. A lot of these vendors are local. We've got a lot of local talent here."
As Greg Ponciano discussed the vendor turnout, City Councilman Kirk Kelleher, who had just walked from his paint store a couple of blocks down on Market Street, approached Ponciano on the sidewalk and sufficiently described the event in three excited words: "This is huge!"
Many of the vendors were veterans of the areas farmers markets, and a handful were at Arbuckle's Pumpkin Festival the weekend before, including Debbie Charter, who was selling her olive oil.
"This is fun. I think that all the towns in the county need to do something like this," Charter said.
The fact that each of the vendors had their own booths to manage did not prevent them from meandering the array of other vendors' booths as customers. For her part, Charter seemed pleased with the turnout.
"I've only made my way down one side of the street, and my arms were so full I had to make my way back," said Charter.
"I couldn't begin to even guess how many people were there. I do know that from the minute it opened, there were people filling the street and going from booth to booth," Greg Ponciano said.
In addition to having booths with food and crafts, the festival included an entire section dedicated to children. On the Market Street side of the courthouse, the kids' zone included face painting, a bowling lane, a bean bag toss booth and multiple crafts stations.
While other kids her age were participating in those activities, Colusa Harvest Festival's youngest vendor — 9-year-old Madison Reister — was at her booth selling the cupcakes she had made and decorated.
"Basically, her life goal right now is to be a competitor on 'Cupcake Wars,'" Cynthia Reister said on the behalf of her niece.
Stephanie Ponciano also said that all the surrounding businesses that she talked to had big Saturdays thanks to the crowd that the event drew.
"We had nothing but positive feedback from the community after the event," she said. "There were a lot of people there from outside the county. Greg met a couple from Florida that was passing through. There were people from Willows, people from Chico and there were people from Sacramento."