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Advance carnival tickets save buyers 50 percent
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Promoting advance discount tickets for the Pumpkin Fair carnival are, from left, Dave Dias, Veronica DeBrum, and Chuck Crutchfield. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The 27th edition of the Manteca Pumpkin Fair kicks off Wednesday when the carnival starts a five-day run adjacent to Best Buy in The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley.

Those who buy tickets in advance can save 50 percent providing they obtain ticket books by Wednesday at 4 p.m.

The book - if left intact - can also be traded in for an all-day ride wristband.

Advance ticket sales are available at the Visitors Center on Grove Street near the fountain in the Orchard Valley complex, Golden Valley Credit Union across from Verizon on Center Street, Give Every Child a Chance on Commerce Court behind Home Depot, and Road Runner Glass in the 200 block of North Main Street.

The carnival hours are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 4 to 10 p.m. as well as Saturday and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m.

A pumpkin carving contest takes place on Saturday, Oct, 1, at 1 p.m. at the Kids Zone at Library Park. You have to pre-carve your pumpkin as no knives, scissors, or any kind of carving tool is allowed at the Pumpkin Fair and will be confiscated.

The categories are scariest, silliest, and most original. The carved pumpkins will be kept on display throughout the fair. Prizes will be awarded.

The pumpkin baking/cooking dessert contest is Sunday, Oct. 2, at 2 p.m. There are four categories – pies, cookies, cake and other. Bring copies of your recipes as they will be included in a future Pumpkin Fair recipe book. There will be prizes.

Started 42 years ago as low key affair

When the Manteca Pumpkin Fair  started 42 years ago it was 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 an 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 Manteca Pumpkin Fair has allowed the Sunrise Kiwanis to pump $529,000 into non-profit organizations since 1984 including $36,000 last year. 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 Welcome Home Heroes Foundation, Manteca Unified outreach to homeless students, and Manteca Youth Focus.

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

The car show this year will feature 18 categories and has a $25 entry fee. It takes place on Sunday, Oct. 2, in the 100 and 200 blocks of East Yosemite.

The two-day event typically draws nearly 40,000 people downtown.

A commercial vendor booth for the two-day street fair that includes free entrainment is $300 while arts and crafts booths are $230. Non-profit fundraising booths are $200 and non-profit information only booths are $125.

You can go to the website for vendor booth information, scarecrow contest entry or car show applications. Vendors can also secure application at the Manteca Visitors Center or by calling 823-7229.