Since 2010, the Denair Farm & Family Festival has celebrated the rural town’s agricultural roots with a day full of fun. The decade-long tradition will return on Saturday in what’s promised to be the best one yet.
“It gets the people in the community to come out and talk to each other and it brings everyone together. As a community, we don’t really see that too much,” said Jeames Shehan, chairman of the Denair Farm & Family Association.
Former chairman Dennis Findley, Sr. started the event nine years ago alongside his wife, Kay. Since then, the festival has grown to raise close to $3,000 annually for Denair High School scholarships. Findley passed away last year and the effort has been named the Dennis and Kay Findley Memorial Scholarship in his honor.
“They wanted to start something to help people know what Denair is and where we are,” Shehan said. “When most people ask where you’re from and you say Denair, they don’t know where it is. This helps with our visibility. We’re a little town out here, but we try.”
There will be music, food, a tractor parade and dozens of vendor booths at the 10th installment of the festival on Saturday, which typically draws about 5,000 visitors to Denair each year. About 50 to 60 percent of attendees come from towns other than Denair, Shehan said, introducing many to a farming lifestyle they may have previously known little about.
Exhibits like the festival’s Farm Discovery Zone at the Community Center give children the chance to experience agriculture firsthand, he said.
“Kids can come learn about farm equipment and how it works,” Shehan said. “It’s really important to keep that going, because nowadays kids don’t have much hands on exp with farming. We do have a large farming community out here, but some of the kids that live in town don’t see that, and people bring kids from out of town to come get that experience.”
The day full of activities will kick off with the Farm Run 5K. Participants can register ahead of time at denairfestival.com or on the day of the race beginning at 7 a.m. The race begins at 8 a.m. and winds from downtown out into the country and back. Participants can walk or run and can even bring their dog or ride a bicycle.
At 9 a.m., the festival truly kicks off with an antique tractor parade down Main Street. There are more than 20 vintage tractors owned by local farmers scheduled to appear. All the tractors later will be on display at the Farm Discovery Zone, which also will have an exhibit of hay harvesting equipment from the turn of the century to modern times.
After the parade, visitors can browse among more than 100 booths featuring jewelry, home decor, information on local companies and organizations, clothing, toys, gifts and plenty of food. There also will be a children’s play area with a bounce house and other games. At 10:30, the music begins. California Creedence will perform the hits of Creedence Clearwater Revival as well as other popular songs from the 1960s and ’70s until 1:30 p.m. Later in the afternoon, the popular local ukulele band Sunshine Strummers also will take the stage.
When the festival is over, visitors who still have an appetite are invited to stick around for the annual Denair Volunteer Fire Department barbecue.
After Findley’s passing, Saturday’s 10th Annual Denair Farm & Family Festival has all the more meaning, Shehan said.
“Even after I took over as chairman, he’d still come down and watch everything,” Shehan said. “It always made him happy to see his legacy keep going in the community.”
The Denair Farm & Family Festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 14 on Main Street in Denair, in between Santa Fe Avenue and Gratton Road.