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Locals horse around at Chico Palio

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 7:15 PM Edited: Sunday, August 31, 2014 7:18 PM

By DAN REIDEL-Staff Writer
Posted:   09/08/2013 12:05:16 AM PDT

CHICO - About 3,000 people enjoyed the Chico Palio art festival that featured a horse sculpture race, live performances, and artistic activities such as a graffiti paint wall and grape stomping.

Students from different schools made horses for Saturday's 13-team race, including Inspire School of Arts and Sciences and Fair View High School, which won the Community Spirit Award.

Kayla Bridges, 14, helped create the horse skeleton sculpture that received the People's Choice Award and won second place in the race for the Inspire team.

"We dipped the bones in paint; it got really messy," she said.

The charter school students performed a scene from Shakespeare's play "As You Like It" as a preview to their showing of the entire play in October.

When the race began, two runners quickly gained the lead. After rounding the final corner and crossing the finish line first, JP Smith and Ted Elsenbaumer were all smiles, holding the Gateway Science Center's sea horse sculpture and posing for pictures.

Two kids who stripped their feet bare and got into tubs filled with grapes were Manuel Robinson and Eryn Swenson.

Members of Chico's Sons of Italy timed them for two minutes and judged how much juice each was able to squeeze from the fruit.

Ten-year-old Eryn won, but they both had a good time.

"That was the funnest thing I've done in a long time," 11-year-old Manuel said.

He had some advice for others who crush grapes. "It's not how hard you stomp, it's how fast you stomp."

One of the artists on the graffiti wall was putting on the finishing touches as the event wound up with the Palio horse race and a dance routine of Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

The spray paint-covered wall is going to be in an art show next week, painter David Selkirk said.

"Usually I end up painting animals, like African animals," he said as he applied shading to the face of a large rhino with a paintbrush.

Debra Lucero, an event organizer, said Chico Palio's goal is to make arts accessible to everyone.

"Part of it is the race," she said. "We try to give people real experience with art."

She said children seemed to love the graffiti wall. "Kids are naturally attracted to anything that looks messy and fun."