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Have a blast at Manteca Street Fair today

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Have a blast at Manteca Street  Fair today

Ciera, 4, and Russell, 2, McEntire enjoy ice cream cones at the Street Fair Saturday.

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin


POSTED April 11, 2010 1:54 a.m.
It’s been quite a while since I set foot in the annual Manteca Street Fair downtown. Come to think of it, I think that was the Pumpkin Fair that I attended. I remember that because that’s the year I went and took pictures of the Cow-munity mural in the parking lot of the then-Kentucky Fried Chicken, now the Athens Burgers. One of the pictures I took that day appears in the Best of Photography Annual 2009 of Photographer’s Forum Magazine.

Somehow, every time the street faire rolled around, I was out of town or busy with something else. This year, I made it a point to be there. For one thing, I wanted to see for myself what the 300-plus booths have to offer. The organizers have expanded the geographical area of the fair, too, stretching from the railroad tracks to the west by the Manteca Public Library to corner at Manteca High School. I thought it would be fun to walk up and down Yosemite and then check out the side streets as well.  I also wanted to see what the attendance would look like considering we’re still in a down economy. Would the crowd be thin? And are the booths selling whatever wares they have to offer?

Surprise, surprise. I’ve never seen food booths selling like hot cakes – from the Lockeford Sausage’s foot-long links and your regular hot dog stands, to the ethnic food fare that included Chinese, Mexican and Italian cuisines to the fair staples such as kettle corn and cotton candy. Lockeford Sausage had two booths – one in the central downtown area and the other in the parking lot of the library – and both were busy nonstop with people lining up for the $5 sausage made at the company’s processing plant in Lockeford complete with all the trimmings. No, the sausage does not come in a bun. The foot-long link rests on a long roll with a generous pile of sauerkraut and onions (if you prefer). Our Bulletin photographer Hime Romero tells me the Lockeford Sausage has become a familiar gastronomical sight in Manteca, and not only at the Street Faire but at the Pumpkin Fair, too. They have to be that good to keep coming back, I commented.

While the weather was overcast, it turned out to be just perfect to draw a big crowd that I was pleasantly surprised to see. I met several multi-generational families such as Nancy Brasmer who brought along great-granddaughter Valaila Menzel, 4. I ran into them at the Democrats’ booth by Tipton’s Stationery and Gifts while Valaila was enjoying one of the fair’s scrumptious offerings.

Young families I met included Niles Anderson, former youth minister at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Manteca. He and his wife Melody came with their two little ones, Clare who enjoyed a ride in a cozy carrier on her dad’s back, and Matthew who had a comfortable ride in his mother’s arms. I ran into the three-generation family of Judy and Ben Collins in front of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (in the old Johnson Studio on Yosemite Avenue and Lincoln Street) who, along with son Russell, were enjoying a respite at one of the outdoor tables and chairs conveniently placed along Yosemite Avenue while grandchildren Ciera, 4, and her brother Russell Jr., 2, finished their ice cream cone courtesy of one of the food booths, of course.

There’s one other thing I discovered at the street fair: man’s best friend – lots of them, and all kinds. I think I saw more dogs than I’ve seen in any of the canine competitions on television. And they were just as beautiful, well behaved and friendly! There were big people with tiny pets, and big ones with petite owners. One of the biggest I saw was a physically impressive mastiff named Azteca who was brought to the fair by the Lopez family – Rudy and kids Ariana, 18, and Jakob. Cindy Narducci of Dogs Day Out Dog Grooming even had her well-groomed pet poodle stop to “judge” the photographs of photographer Jerome (no last name) who has his booth in front of Manteca Bedquarters. At the food courts, there was no shortage of canine friends parading next to, and in front of, the “hot dog” signs.

It’s impossible to mention all the attractions and informational booths that this year’s bigger-than-ever Manteca Street Fair has to offer. You just have to go and find out if you have time today. It starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.
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