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Comfest celebrates 35th festival

For the 35th year people will gather for the annual Community Festival or Comfest. The festival has grown substantially since 1972 - from just a few card tables and beer taps, to more than 200 vendors and 1,200 empty beer kegs by festival's end.

Food and beverage vendors lined both sides of West Goodale Street. Some folks were sitting in the shade quenching their thirst. Others were still working away.

This is about the tenth time H and R Concessions has set up shop at the annual Community Festival. Part of the ritual is to attach large barrels to their tent then fill them with water to make sure the tent does not blow away in case of inclement weather. Co-owner Heath Rader said they learned this trick the hard way.

"Yeah, a big storm blew through and we didn't have barrels and it about blew us away. We had two people on every corner trying to hold it down. It was bad. It was scary. It was really scary, so now we don't come without barrels," Rader said.

H and R Concessions was not the only vendor getting things in order for the busy three days ahead. Barney and Deb Perkins and their three sons had just finished setting up their cotton candy stand for the first time at Comfest.

"We're a little excited, we're a little apprehensive about everything here. People's told us some stories and it's exciting to be here. What kind of stories have they told you? Just, uh, diverse, just the amount of, many people here, all walks of life," Barney Perkins said.

Despite Perkins' nervousness, he said he's very excited about the festival. It's the largest one they've been to all year, plus, he says they're the only cotton candy vendor at the festival.

"We have candy apples, caramel apples, popcorn, caramel corn, taffy, pretty much everything in the line of confections. There's a little bit of everything here but we're the only cotton candy," Barney Perkins said.

The Barneys expect this weekend to be a nice revenue boost for their business.

Mark Fisher is a Comfest organizer. Fisher said the group expects between 50,000 and 70,000 people attending the festival each day. While he said they do not maintain hard statistics, there is one way they can keep track.

"More people have been coming because the one statistic they we have is sales of beer. And it increases. So there must be more people drinking," Fisher said.

The festival is known for booking local musicians and its 1960s peace and love attitude. This year, Fisher said there's a new addition: the healing arts zone.

"There's going to be teachers and practitioners of like acupuncture, teachers of tai chi, Oriental medicine, philosophy, message therapy, all things to do with you know sort of healing and Oriental wisdom," Fisher said.

When asked if Fisher had any final thoughts on this year's Comfest he had just two words, "No rain."

The festival runs through Sunday night.