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Fair celebrates diversity in Clovis

It’s about ethnicity, no doubt. But it’s also about entertainment and education.

The Ethnic Fair, in its 19th year in Clovis, is to provide a way for ethnic groups in the area to share unique elements from each culture and understand and appreciate each other.

“The different components are a reflection of your community, as well as your surrounding area,” said Selmus Price, chairman of the Clovis Ethnic/Cultural Arts Committee. “It’s basically to educate the public on the craft.”

The first elements began Monday, with batik and tie dye workshops at Finnifrock’s Color Factor and drum and dance workshops at the Roy Walker Community Center.

Saturday starts with a fun run/walk, and includes a car show, musical groups, dancing performances and a talent show.

Price said the format for this year’s fair is basically the same as in previous years, with a mariachi band, flamenco dancers, the New Mexico Society of Buffalo Soldiers and African group Agalu.

“Whether it’s the drums, whether it’s the art or the clothing,” Price said, “you’re looking to feature whatever they have to showcase their culture.”

Akeem Ayanniyi, the leader of Santa Fe-based Agalu, said the group has been performing at the fair for 10 years, and first came to know about it when he performed for a state NAACP function, where he met Price.

“We like to be part of it,” Ayanniyi said. “It’s very ethnic, a very festive scene. We like being part of it.”

Price said Agalu usually comes to a school during the week to educate students about their music. He said if it’s possible, “you need to go” because the group is able to involve everybody, from student to school employee, in the act.

Price said one of the best things about the fair is that you never know where the information will reach.

During a 1997 fair, U.S. Rep. Bill Redmond spoke with Ira Potter of the New Mexico Society of the Buffalo Soldiers, and later gave Potter recognition during a session of Congress. The following year, Price said, Redmond helped lead legislation to recognize Buffalo Soldiers across the country.

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