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Eric and Brianna Burton got into the spirit at the Banana Festival. (Photo by Chris Frost)
Thursday, October 3, 2019

By Chris Frost


Port Hueneme— The Port of Hueneme went bananas Sept. 28, as the 8th Annual Banana Festival meant fun, music, dancing, rides, food, shopping and much more.


The event took place at the port where people also got the chance to tour the area and see everything the location offers and all the products that arrive daily.


The event also meant lots of bananas being handed out, culminating with a pie-eating contest while the band played and people danced the afternoon away.


Britni Austin ran Happy Tails Mobile Farm, the first attraction when you arrive, and she and her partners brought her pettable bunnies, chickens, ducks, goats, and her sheep to the festival which the kids enjoyed.


The farm just opened in 2019, and they contacted the festival organizers about taking part in the fun.


"It's kind of all over the place," she said. "You never know how we are going to meet people."


The kids were having a great time, and Austin gets a lot of questions about the animals attending the event. The team gives out a lot of facts about the animals, so people walk away with some knowledge they didn't arrive with.


"We get a lot of how long do they live, or are they a boy or a girl and do they all have names," she said. "We go to kids' birthday parties; we'll go to your house, go to festivals, all kinds of stuff."


She loves the festival.


"I haven't gotten the chance to explore yet, but I am going to find a banana treat," she said. "I want a banana funnel cake."


Austin loves making people happy.


"Everybody gets a big smile on their face when they see the animals," she said. 


Corry and Conrad Nagashima loved the mobile petting zoo.


"I fed the goats and said hi to the bunnies," Conrad said. "Conrad fed the chickens."


Corry also had an excellent time.


"They're nice, friendly little animals," he said. "This has been a great festival. I love all the booths."


Eric and Brianna Burton got their picture taken in full banana costumes.


"I love bananas," Brianna said. "I saw something about this on Facebook, so we came here."


Eric loves getting dressed up.


"It's a blast," he said. "This is a good time. We already have some bananas. I love that it's free to get in and it is free parking."


Jan Straka brought Club NEMA to the festival, and the group planned to dance throughout the day.


"Jared Gambon is going to perform for us," Straka said. "We have other performers coming throughout the day. I have been taking pictures in front of our banana backdrop all day."


This was the first time Club NEMA performed at the Banana Festival. 


"My students wanted to come here this year," she said.  


Gambon planned on popping at the site.


"It's a street dance style that focuses on being on the beat," he said. "It all comes to being on the beat with hits, which is like the exposure of the body."


He loves being part of Club NEMA.


"I get to show people what I get to do," he said.


Ojai resident Colton Quirk got to touch a snake at an exhibit. He was a little nervous at first but enjoyed the experience.


"It was good," he said. "My favorite thing about the snake was petting it. The skin felt like skin. I like the green color snake."


Colton wanted to bring one home and keep it around the house.


Grandma Peggy Quirk had no plans to purchase a snake.


"Absolutely not," she said. "It can go to their home."


Findley Quirk liked the snake and said it didn't bite.


"It was cool to feel around the neck," she said. 


Landon Quirk said he wasn't too scared, and he disagreed with his grandmother about bringing home a snake.


"Once my sister did it, I decided I'll go for it," he said. "I saw how happy she was when she held it, so I wanted to see what it was like."


Elsa from Frozen and Chase from Paw Patrol were on-hand to take pictures with the kids and adults.


"Our business is called Party Stars, so we go to all kinds of events, as well as hosting them," Elsa said. "We have all these characters come to their parties, so it’s magical for them."


HPC partnered with the Tree Factory to bring cannabis to the festival.


"We do delivery, and we've partnered with Tree Factory, General Manager Ericka Tutino said. "We share the same menu, and the Tree Factory does all our deliveries for us. We don't have a delivery charge, but we do have a delivery minimum, depending on where you're located."


The dispensary is a one-of-a-kind location.


"We are the only female-owned dispensary on the green mile," she said. "We focus on educating the public, rather than being the stoners on the third floor. We do a lot of community outreach. I do talks with the Ventura County Women's Group, and I am doing my first one with the Men's Group on Oct. 10. We do talks with the Chamber of Commerce, and we do food drives with the local food bank."


She welcomes everyone to come in.


"All you need to be is 21 years old with a valid driver's license," she said. "There is no pressure to buy. You can come in a talk to one of our consultants."


The location is getting ready for the holiday season.


"Even though we sell cannabis, we're still a retail location," she said. "We do packages for Christmas, and we also do Valentine's Day, Mother's and Father's Days, so we have specials for all those holidays. The best bang for your buck will be on Black Friday."


The location also sells plenty of edibles, like cannabis butter, cookies, and chocolate.


"We have medicated drinks like our old-fashioned lemonade," Tutino said. "It tastes just like the drinks you get at Disneyland, but it's way more fun. We have a medicated version of a breath spray, and it tastes nice and minty."


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