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Rolling out silver pumpkin event

Sunrise Kiwanis celebrating a fair 25 years

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Rolling out silver pumpkin event

Crowds of over 30,000 people attend the Manteca Pumpkin Fair in downtown each year.

Bulletin file photo/


POSTED August 23, 2009 3:01 a.m.
The frost isn’t on the pumpkins quite yet but already the Sunrise Kiwanis are gearing up for their 25th anniversary of the Manteca Pumpkin Fair Oct. 3-4.

The event draws more than 30,000 people to downtown Manteca to enjoy everything from a street fair, musical entertainment, fun run, and food to pumpkin contests.

The silver anniversary is being marked with the return of the carnival that is taking place on vacant land near the Airport Way and Highway 120 Bypass.

The event actually was started 40 years ago as a low-key affair by Manteca pumpkin growers who were a bit miffed that Half Moon Bay was declaring itself the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.” Such claims are always dubious but in Manteca’s case they had plenty of evidence to prove they were the undisputed Pumpkin Capital of California with 80 percent of the commercial Halloween pumpkin crop grown and shipped from the Manteca area.

That first event included a stack of pumpkins surrounded by hay and contests such as pumpkin rolling. The friendly dispute ultimately landed Manteca on the front page of People magazine and gave birth to the annual Manteca tradition.

The now defunct Manteca Jaycees took the event over from the pumpkin growers. It was under the tutelage of the Sunrise Kiwanis, though, that the event became what it is today – a free community affair that draws big crowds much to the advantage of vendors plus raises major bucks for local non-profits.

The money raised for Manteca non-profits is impressive. The Manteca Pumpkin Fair has allowed the Sunrise Kiwanis to pump $511,267 into non-profit organizations since 1984. That doesn’t include what a number of local non-profits raise with their booths that sell everything from pumpkin pie to raffle tickets right alongside the commercial as well as art and craft vendors. The marquee charities benefitting from the Pumpkin Fair this year are the Raymus House/HOPE Family Shelter, Every 15 Minutes, and Manna Ministries.

A component of the fair that isn’t high profile but has a huge impact is the free Special Access Day that allows mentally handicapped adults to enjoy carnival rides, dancing, food and other entertainment will also take place again this year. Special Access Day attracts over 1,000 participants from throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

The Kiwanis are adding a “Dance with the Stars” contest, a pumpkin scavenger hunt, as well as offering a limited supply of 25th anniversary wine glasses and 25th anniversary T-shirts for sale. There also will be a scarecrow contest and a pumpkin recipe contest.

The car show this year will feature 13 categories and has a $25 entry fee.

You can go to the website www.sunrisekiwanis.org or call the hotline at 1-800-592-7419 for vendor booth information or car show applications.
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