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Rides open through Sunday at Orchard Valley
Peggy Danel and her granddaughter Hailey navigate their way through the bumper cars ride on the midway of the Pumpkin Fair carnival. - photo by HIME ROMERO

• WHAT: Pumpkin Fair carnival
• WHERE: Orchard Valley next to Best Buy at 120 Bypass and Union Road
• WHEN: Today & Friday from 4 to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m.

Kevin Tate loves the Highway 99 corridor.

The California Carnival Co. owner enjoyed bringing his crew to the Ripon Almond Blossom Festival so much that he negotiated with the Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau to be the official ride provider at the Crossroads Street Faire.

And now, five months and more than a dozen cities later, Tate is back for the 27th annual Sunrise Kiwanis Pumpkin Fair. It’s the third straight year he’s provided the carnival attractions for the community after taking a break from coming to Manteca.

There’s something about the people in these communities, says Tate, which makes coming to these towns worthwhile.

“We offer good low-cost family entertainment, and people here really appreciate that,” he said. “You go over to the coast and they’re thankful but they’re just not as appreciative. You can feel the fruits of your labor when you see the smiles on the kids’ faces, and it makes all of the hard work it took to get to a city and set-up for that week.

“It makes you feel good.”

But there’s a lot of work that goes into getting from one place to another in order to meet their opening day goal – especially when you consider that the tear down time and the travel time are factored into the equation.

Tate and his crew didn’t arrive in Manteca until late Monday night. While some rides – which fold up as trailers like “Transformers” – simply collapse down and require minimal prep work, getting everything polished up and ready for both the safety inspection and the expected crowds takes a little more time.

Trailers for the staffers have to be put in along with bunkhouses near the site, and tens of thousands – if not more – of light bulbs are checked on the rides to make sure they’re providing the maximum experience for their customers.

And the result, by the time the electrical cables are all put down and everything is checked and cross-checked to make sure it’s working properly, is a family friendly zone where parents can feel safe about bringing their children.

Tate, who has been around carnivals for more than 30 years, decided that he wanted to do something different with his company and conducts a pre-employment Megan’s Law background check and randomly drug-tests his employees.

Collared shirts are required, and basic manners are the norm.

“We also want to focus our business on making sure that people get the customer service that they deserve,” Tate said. “When you go into a diner today and order your eggs over-easy you get them hard. We don’t want to leave a reputation like that or give anybody that experience. What you’ll hear is ‘yes sir’ and ‘no ma’am.’

“It’s just the way that things should be.”

The carnival operates today from 4 to 10 p.m., Friday from 4 to 10 p.m. with an option to stay open until 11 p.m., Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. with an option to stay open until 11 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m.

The carnival is being held in the parking lot next to Best Buy at the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley – located on the south side of Highway 120 Bypass at Union Road.