Small-town pride means Cloverdale Citrus Fair goes despite rainy day

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Cloverdale residents and visitors embraced the rain and saturated fairgrounds Saturday to celebrate the 127th annual Cloverdale Citrus Fair and parade, the second day of a four-day event packed with carnival rides, doughy foods, game booths and live music by local musicians.

The morning parade kicked off the festivities, with hundreds of student volunteers passing out candy and stickers to young kids and dozens of organizations lined up to participate in the procession. The Cloverdale Historical Society re- enacted scenes from the city’s past, art installations made of citrus decorated the parade path and the Humboldt State University Marching Lumberjacks, clad in red flannel shirts and yellow hard hats, entertained the crowd.

State Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, was among the local politicians waving to the crowd and ducking under umbrellas to chat with locals.

“I love the Cloverdale Citrus Fair because it is the best tradition for our city,” said resident Montse Reece, who has attended the fair with her family for two decades. “This is what keeps communities together.”

The parade typically draws about 5,000 spectators, said Cloverdale Police Officer John Camara, but because of the nearly weeklong storm, Saturday’s crowd was significantly smaller than last year.

The parade’s grand marshals were Tom and Dorothy Montoya, who moved to Cloverdale in 1946 and have been connected to the Citrus Fair in many different roles for nearly 40 years.

Dorothy worked as a teacher’s aid in Cloverdale and for the city before retiring after 25 years. Tom was a firefighter and later an assistant fire chief for over 20 years.

Ryan Williams, 2, participated in the parade for the first time with his dad, Mitch Williams, as part of the Cloverdale Wrestling Club float.

Wrestling wasn’t a sports option for youth in the area for over a decade until a little over a year ago, when Williams and a group of other parents founded a nonprofit to restart the program.

“The community has been so supportive, so it is great coming out here and being part of this weekend,” Williams said.

Political issues of the day were not sidestepped. A group of around 30 people wearing rain slickers marched together along the parade route and held signs that called for the overturn of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which struck down a ban on federal election spending by corporations and unions. Others promoted “Health care for all.”

Vicky Groom walked in front of the group and was holding a banner for “Cloverdale Indivisible” a group tied to the larger national Indivisible movement, which works to promote progressive leaders and causes.

An art project created by the local Girl Scouts troop listed the names of some of the women they found inspirational, including newly seated Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco.

“The majority of congresswomen today were Girl Scouts. They have said Girl Scouts have helped them get them where they are today,” the installation read.

But small-town pride was at the heart of the event, which continues through Monday, with sunnier skies in the forecast.

Kathy Ryan moved to Cloverdale from San Francisco for a change of pace from big-city life.

“I love this fair because it is all about family and community and you have to search hard for that nowadays,” Ryan said.

You can reach Staff Writer Alexandria Bordas at 707-521-5337 or On Twitter @CrossingBordas.

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