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Manteca takes to the ‘street’ fair

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Fabian Martinez of the downtown Manteca store "Birds, Tropical Paradise & Reptiles" takes a five-foot, 55-pound red tail boa constrictor out for people to see up close during the first day of the 1...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED April 11, 2010 1:52 a.m.
Everything from the weird and wacky to the bold and the beautiful were on display at the 14th annual Crossroads Street Fair Saturday afternoon.

Thousands of people braved less-than-ideal weather conditions for a day full of food and fun – flooding the trek from Library Park all the way down to Main Street with what seemed like an endless sea of people browsing the unique booths and socializing with friends and family along the way.

While annual staples like kettle corn and Lockeford sausages drew sizeable crowds, local businesses decided to take advantage of the numbers as well and introduced visitors to some of their products – some that were typical and others that were anything but.

Fabian Martinez of Birds Tropical Paradise downtown drew his own crowd as he showed off a six-foot long red-tailed boa constrictor that fair-goers simply couldn’t get enough of – stopping by to pet the beautifully-colored reptile and even take pictures with it.

“It’s a lot fun being out here because you get to show people what kind of animals we have, and that they’re safe to be around,” Martinez said. “I enjoy seeing the smiles on the faces of the people who get the chance to come into contact with an animal like this.”

For second-year vendor Jason Kline – who had a steady following at his Axe Heaven booth that sold miniature versions of famous guitars as well as guitar necklaces that conceal a guitar pick – the crowds were overwhelmingly positive, and while sales were down slightly over last year, Kline said he planned on not only returning next year but also possibly coming to the Pumpkin Fair in the fall.

“This is a fair that always draws a good crowd, and seems to provide good family entertainment for everyone to come out and enjoy,” Kline said. “This fair seems to be more family friendly, and I think that’s a reason why a lot of people keep coming back every year.”

The man who traveled the furthest to showcase his wares on Manteca’s main drag – South African Rich Christie – enjoyed chatting with people passing by his booth that carried Australian kangaroo hats and other headwear styles for the adventurous.

While he’s preparing for a summer-long trek that will take him all the way up to the Calgary Stampede – the world’s largest rodeo – Christie, who makes the Crossroads Street Fair an annual stop on his tour, gave credit to the volunteers that make everything possible.
“Every year the hospitality here is so great – they bring us coffee and donuts in the morning and are just so friendly,” he said. “A lot of shows make you feel like you’re nothing but a number. Here you’re a human being.”

For Manteca resident Laurie Barton – who along with granddaughter Elizabeth pulled a wagon with grandchildren Eugene and Abby – the day was a chance to get away without actually having to leave town to do it.

“I like to get out of the house, and to be able to do right here in my community without having to drive 50 miles is great,” she said. “We’re all having a great time.”
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