Half Moon Bay’s bold and dubious claim in the 1970s that it is the Pumpkin Capital of the World has helped generate around $1 million for Manteca non-profits.
That’s because Manteca pumpkin growers headed by George Perry were a bit taken aback given the fact historically anywhere between 70 and 80 percent of all pumpkins grown in California come from the fields around Manteca.
That prompted the farmers to start an informal “pumpkin fair” at Library Park that consisted of some kids’ games, a belly dancer that first year, bales of hay and a small mountain of pumpkins. They also openly challenged Half Moon Bay’s claim. That led to the “friendly feud” between the two communities being a featured cover story in People magazine.
That original event ultimately made orange the color of money for Manteca non-profits.
Thanks to the Manteca Pumpkin Fair staged by the Sunrise Kiwanis more than $530,000 has gone to non-profits from money the service club has generated since taking over the fair 27 years ago. That’s in addition to money that non-profits have raised at their own booths over the years at the festival that takes place the first weekend in October.
And that is in addition to Pumpkin Fair proceeds the Sunrise Kiwanis use to stage free community events ranging from the Fourth of July parade to the free kids fishing.
Toss in money generated through the Manteca Jaycees for community projects when that now defunct group ran the Pumpkin Fair after the farmers group handed it off and before the Sunrise Kiwanis took over and the impact on community non-profits easily exceeds $1 million over time.
“A lot of people may not realize it but the Pumpkin Fair is a big benefactor for various non-profits in town,” noted Pumpkin Fair committee member Chuck Crutchfield.
This year’s festival is Saturday, Oct. 1, and Sunday, Oct., 2, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day in downtown Manteca.
The carnival takes place Wednesday, Sept. 28, through Sunday, Oct. 2 in the parking lot at the Best Buy at The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley at the 120 Bypass and Union Road. Pre-sale ride tickets that are discounted 50 percent are available through Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 4 p.m. They can be purchased at the Manteca Visitors’ Center at Orchard Valley, Golden Valley Credit Union on Center Street, Roadrunner Glass in the 200 block of North Main Street, and Give Every Child a Chance on Commerce Court behind Home Depot.
Information on vendor booths for the two-day event that typically lures more than 30,000 people is available by going to www.sunrisekiwanis.org