Ventura Lantern Street Festival Leaves Something to be Desired

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Photo by Sejal Anuraji The Bottom Line

Daniel Solors

On Sunday, Feb. 17, Ventura held its lantern street festival. The event cost $35 for admittance and included one decorative lantern to display on a metal overhang at the end of the event.

The street was filled with an abundance of vendors from tarot card readers to numerous local artists, crafters, and street comedians. Intermittent live music with a smooth country feel played in the background. However, an extreme wind made it difficult to enjoy the features since the festival was held outdoors.

The number of attendees exceeded 200, but it was difficult to determine who had paid and who didn’t. Everyone with purchased tickets checked in at a front gate where hands were stamped and lanterns were distributed. The issue with the arrangement was that the event took place on a closed-off street so there was no way to prevent those who didn’t pay from entering through either of the other ends of the street.

Moreover, there were three lines in which one was stamped, given a lantern, and then ushered to the entrance. All three could have easily been combined into one smooth flowing line.

“This already seems unorganized. Hand out the lanterns at one line so people don’t get screwed,” said Jonathan Chapman, a festival attendee, in an interview with The Bottom Line.

The event was off to a rough start, but once the comedy show began everyone seemed to liven up. The comedian was a performer who displayed many impressive acts such as fire juggling, pole climbing, and risky tests of strength, agility, and concentration.

The comedian, known as the Fuzzy Juggler, stated, “I’ve traveled all around the world from Mexico, London, New Zealand, and plenty of places in between.”

The event promoted local businesses from individual vendors to the brick and mortar stores lining the streets. I stopped at a local Thai restaurant where I got to speak to a man who has lived in Ventura over the past decade. He shed some light on the  event for me, which spurred more disappointment.

“I’ve never heard of this lantern festival before and I live here … We hadn’t seen any advertisement for this prior either, not even on the radio,” said Matt Whitney, owner of Rice Thai Cuisine.

Despite the lack of organization and establishment, the festival had its ups in promoting local businesses and talented performers. However, since the festival is not annual it is unclear whether another will arise next year. Of course, it is also uncertain if anyone will be dismayed at its discontinuance.