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Dec 11, 2018
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Fashawn performs at Grizzly Fest 2017 in Chukchansi Park on April 29, 2017. “Thank you Fresno for letting us have an event like this,” said the hip-hop artist from Fresno. “It really means more to me than you know.” (Khone Saysamongdy/Collegian File Photo)

Grizzly Fest to bring liveliness to the Central Valley

Grizzly Fest is returning to Fresno on May 18 and 19 with expanded food options, a stacked lineup and a new location.

This year’s lineup includes Snoop Dogg, Jhene Aiko and Dirty Heads as well as Foster the People and Nas. Local artists such as Zee Will and Fashawn will also perform.

Aren Hekimian, the organizer of Grizzly Fest, said part of what inspired him to organize a music festival in Fresno was to show locals what the Central Valley has to offer.

“I want to prove to people that we’re a region that’s just as good as any other region in the United States,” Hekimian said.

Seth Duran, who plays drums for Sharks of Dance – a local band that will perform at Grizzly Fest – said the event is much needed for the Central Valley, as the area’s music scene has slowed recently.

“Fresno doesn’t get a lot of very big shows very often,” Duran said. “I think it’s a good opportunity to show bigger artists that Fresno is a great place to come.”

Hekimian said that often, people doubt the Central Valley’s ability to host entertainment.

“I love that we’re underdogs,” Hekimian said. “I feel people in the Central Valley are just not educated about what Fresno has to offer – and that’s what we’re here to do.”

Duran echoed these sentiments.

“Fresno sometimes gets a bad name, undeservingly,” Duran said. “We are one of the biggest cities in California. There are lots of people that want to come out and enjoy music.”

This year will be the first time that Grizzly Fest will take place at Woodward Park. Previously, it’s been held at the Fresno Fairgrounds and Chukchansi Park.

Hekimian said the location was changed in hopes of improving the overall experience.

“[There are] areas where people can sit and congregate and dance and enjoy music – rather than being in a really tight, confined area,” he said. “You need space, and you want scenery.”

The change in location was met with pushback. Earlier this year, controversy ensued over the potential for noise pollution in surrounding areas because of the festival. Hekimian said the debacle didn’t take him by surprise.

“Anytime you’re doing something that’s going to push the boundaries, you’re always going to get hit with adversity,” he said.

Hekimian said that much of the conflict stemmed from misinformation.

“If people don’t know, they’re going to be fearful,” Hekimian said. “We just had to educate them on what this is and how this can really impact our community in a positive way.”

The festival will include 30 food trucks, offering a spectrum of options including tacos, vegan food and Thai food.

Grizzly Fest will also have art installations on display. There will be a four sided wall with murals, a backdrop for people to take photos in front of and an LED Ferris wheel.

For lineup and ticket information, visit grizzlyfestival.com.

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