Festivals attract students to Arcata Plaza

By Jeff Gardner
Flapjack Chronicle

Fall is the season for a fresh wave of students in HSU and many festivals on the Arcata plaza. These fairs range in both size and length, and organizing and orchestrating them can prove complicated. But Arcata’s parks and recreation department rarely throws fairs independently, often a private organization is involved in throwing its own party.

“They rent the plaza, and pay the fees: such as additional police, rental fees, barricades, electricity, etc.,” said recreation supervisor Mike Rice.

Rice went on to discuss the largest of all of the fairs in Arcata, the North Country Fair. This September’s fair had an estimated attendance of 10,000 people over the two-day weekend Sept. 21-22.

“Festivals here are always fun, be surprised with what some people come up with,” said geology major Adrian Baez-Alicea.

During the Arcata Pastels on the Plaza, the town gets to see the sidewalks being painted and chalked.

Baez-Alicea also remembered some less pleasant moments from festivals in the past. The statue of President William McKinley was damaged during a past Halloween festival.

Rice said the police department sets extra conditions for festivals, such as road barricades and hiring extra staff, and for that reason the festivals are plenty safe for everyone. The police department decides these parameters based on whether or not it is a minor festival, those with an attendance less than 50, or a major festival, those with an attendance larger than 50.

The town’s eccentricity is almost always an attraction for visitors and even long time citizens. Many of the new students to HSU are excited to see if all of the wild rumors and stories about both the festivals and everyday life are true.

“I heard you get to meet all the great hobos, and that they have awesome stories,” said local HSU student Belle Snow, 18. While she hasn’t been to a festival yet, she plans on it.

As for events to be expected later in the year students can go online to Arcata’s website and see a community calendar with all of the upcoming events on it. And of course, students can always look forward to the fresh fruits and vegetables and handmade crafts at the Arcata Farmer’s Market, held every Saturday from  9 a.m. to 2 p.m. With live music starting at 10 a.m., the market will be held every Saturday until Nov. 20.

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