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SELMA – As the newly crowned Raisin Festival Queen, Alyna Esquivel said she has a lot to be thankful for and even more to look forward to in her new role.

“I’m really excited to represent Selma and the community and I’ll do all I can to give back to this town,” she said at the May 4 coronation at Lincoln Park. She thanked not only her supporters and family but the other contestants as well.

“I hope to bring a positive attitude to everything that I do. I’m looking forward to meeting people and being a part of the community. Everything that Selma’s given to me, I’ll be able to give to someone else.”

Esquivel, 22, was sponsored by the Selma Rotary Club. She attends Fresno Pacific University and is working toward a career as a registered dietitian. She works as a physician liaison at Fyzical Therapy & Balance Center in Selma.

The other candidates included Khori Cranford sponsored by Robertson Guerra Insurance and Jasmine Garcia sponsored by the Central Valley Lioness Lions Club.

Outgoing Queen Sierra Shoemaker said it’s been an “amazing experience” and shared a bit of advice for the incoming royalty.

“To the next queen, you’re going to have so much fun. Soak in every minute because it goes way too fast.”

The four-day festival included a carnival, live music, food booths, vendors and a variety of art competitions. Depending on who you asked, festival-goers each had a different part of the event they enjoyed the most.

“What I like the best are the rides, especially the UFO,” 12-year-old Julian Calletano said. He came with his grandparents, Lee and Virginia Badillo, but it’s his older brother, Joel, that gets on the rides with him.

“We’re getting too old for that,” Virginia Badillo said. Another reason they were enjoying the day was that they’re related to the new Raisin Festival queen.

“And our niece just won Raisin Queen. We’re so excited for her!” she said.

Greg and Dolores Sermeno were among families wandering around the carnival rides for younger children. Their sons, Gregory and Benjamin, pulled floating rubber duckies from a small pool to see what prizes they won.

“One liked the swing ride, the one liked the ball he just won,” Dolores Sermeno said. Next they would get a snack and since it’s festival time, the calories don’t count.

“We’ll probably get some funnel cake. I don’t know how healthy that is,” she said.

The boys’ father said he enjoys watching his children play now, but when he was a teen he liked spinning on the fastest rides there.

“When I was younger I would have gotten on the spaceship. I thought my sons would have been scared and wouldn’t get on the rides, but they’ve already gotten on five rides each. I’m happy for that.”

Vendors offered food that ranged from the unusual, such as fried alligator, to the traditional fare of corn dogs and kettle corn.

Parlier’s Martin Delgado said he’d take advantage of working nearby to grab lunch every day.

“I work right at the jewelry store next door, so tomorrow I can just walk over here on my lunch,” he said as he ate a funnel cake.

Desiree Gallardo said she was looking forward to getting on the rides, even if they are a little scary.

“I like the rides and walking around. I haven’t gotten on any rides yet but I like the Zipper even though I get scared.”

Her brother, Raymond Gallardo, said he like the rides and seeing old and young alike enjoying the day.

“I like the environment of all the families together. The people are great and it’s a great experience for the little kids.”

Inside the Senior Center, Mary Allen coordinated the photography, poetry, art, baking and floriculture competitions. Final results will be available next week.

“We have a wide variety and this year, we have a lot of acrylic. It’s a very colorful exhibit this year,” she said of the art entries.

Since each competition is hosted by different local organizations, the new judges bring different perspectives each year.

“It’s always interesting to see what the different judges’ tastes are.”

The Selma District Chamber of Commerce sponsors the festival and Director Bob Allen said it draws residents they typically see only once each year.

“We have great local vendors that are raising money for their own efforts and this gives the community an opportunity to support those activities. For me, it’s a reunion every year. I catch up with their families and their lives and their experiences of what they’ve been doing all year.”

The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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