OAKHURST — The sun has set on the 25th Annual Oakhurst Fall Festival, warmly received by thousands, and organizers may now breathe a brief sigh of relief and take a short break before they begin planning the next quarter-century.
Presented by the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce, the two-day fest featured some 58 vendors, including a variety of delicious food, the welcome presence of local businesses, and nearly-irresistible boutique items for sale. Entertainment highlights included, among others, the Jedi show, during which kids of all ages had a blast learning the Jedi Way. Elvis swiveled and sang appropriately. Live music, flowing along with delightful libations throughout, only enhanced the ambiance.
Chamber president-elect Melanie Barker is quick to give credit accordingly. She points out that Fesitval Committee Chair Anne Driscoll of Branches Books & Gifts brought new energy to the process, and was “dedicated and committed to her vision of changing it up.” Vendors, Melanie says, were “adeptly handled” by Lanie Suderman of Visit Yosemite Madera County. The appreciation goes out to many who supported the event.
There were at least two significant changes that received positive feedback, we’re told.
The first was moving the event to Friday night and Saturday, from its previous place on Saturday and Sunday. The second stroke of inspired planning was the inclusion of a small but mighty midway, so the fun factor spun ’round and ’round. It’s been years since these kind of midway attractions have appeared in Oakhurst and it’s commendable that the committee managed to pull that off.
Local youth and scores of out-of-town visitors were pretty thrilled night and day. Grown-ups seemed to enjoy the weekend, as well: friends and neighbors were dancing and laughing, and dropping cash on art, jewelry, handmade gifts, wine, beer, chocolate, tasty treats and other affordable luxuries.
“One attendee said that it felt like a party had been thrown and the whole town was invited to come,” Melanie laughs. “Another commented that it felt like real a community event for all — including families.”
Tip jars were put out at Chamber locations on site and passed around by students, with money being collected over the two days for injured Yosemite High School athlete, PJ Kuzmitzki. One generous gentleman is said to have put $100 in the tip bucket when he learned why it was there.
25 years of Fall Festivals in its various incarnations represents untold volunteer hours in planning and execution, and infinite reward in the currency of community spirit. This year afforded a memorably festive event perfectly suited for marking such a big occasion.
“There was just an air of happiness. It was pretty incredible to be a part of and witness,” Melanie adds. “I’m proud of the community event we hosted and we look forward to an even better one next year.”
Special thanks for use of photographs: