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Festival carnival open through Sunday
William Thomas works on the Berry-Go-Round as crews prepared for the opening of the Almond Blossom Festival carnival. - photo by HIME ROMERO


• WHAT: 48th annual Ripon Almond Blossom Festival
• WHERE: Mistlin Sports Park, Jack Tone and River roads
• TIME: Festival grounds are open Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. and includes a carnival. The carnival is open today as well at noon. The parade is Saturday at 11 a.m.
• MORE INFO: Call the Ripon Chamber of Commerce office at 599-7519

RIPON – Kevin Tate and his crew of more than two-dozen workers started piecing together what would become the Ripon Almond Blossom Carnival on early Tuesday morning.

They wouldn’t be at it for very long.

The massive storm that moved slowly across Northern California eventually left the crew with three inches of standing water on what would eventually become their midway, and the assembly of the 18 rides and almost as many games that they brought this year would have to wait until the next day.

But for Tate – who is now entering his 12th year running the California Carnival Company’s Almond Blossom event – not even the inclement weather could take away the anticipation of one of his favorite stops of the year.

“This place has really become like a second home to me and I look forward to getting the chance to come back each and every year,” said Tate. “Everybody here is so friendly and everything is so family oriented – and when you drive into town you can really tell that this is all about the Almond Blossoms.

“There are so many of these festivals that we go to that don’t have any trace of what it is they’re supposed to be celebrating, but that definitely isn’t the case here.”

By early Thursday afternoon, Tate and his crew were finally putting the finishing touches on everything as they geared up for “dollar day” – a collaborative effort between his company and the Ripon Chamber of Commerce to boost attendance at the carnival and provide a day of low-cost family entertainment for people in the community.

With sunshine and temperatures inching toward 70 degrees, Tate said he was anticipating a huge turnout by the time they finally opened up to the public.

And while the event had all of the makings of a carnival – including the midway games, the rides, and the food booths – Tate stressed that he has gone to great lengths to distance his company from the image that most people have about “carnies” in order to provide a true family-friendly product for his customers.

“Every single one of my workers has undergone a Megan’s Law background check, and they’re all subject to random drug testing,” Tate said of his employees. “Everybody wears black pants and a collared shirt – this is all about families coming out here and wanting to have a good time, and we want them to feel comfortable while they’re out here. We treat everybody that works for us like family and that carries over into the product that we provide to the communities that we visit.”

The carnival is expected to reopen today at noon, and on Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. – closing on Friday and Saturday night somewhere between 10 and 11 p.m. and around 7 p.m. on Sunday.

This being their second year at Mistlin Park, Tate is looking forward to the massive turnout that he sees every year, and is grateful that he has a chance to be back in one of his favorite cities.

“Dorothy (Booth) at the Chamber of Commerce does such a good job putting all of this together, and it really shows when the event starts,” he said. “The people of Ripon really take pride in the Almond Blossom Festival, and we’re proud to be able to be a part of that.”