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Growers got Pumpkin Fair rolling 42 years ago
George Perry and Sons are one of the major sponsors of the 2011 Sunrise Kiwanis Pumpkin Fair. Posing, from left, are George Perry, Violet Perry, Kerri Tapia, George Perry Jr. and Carol Davis. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

• WHAT: 27th annual Manteca Pumpkin Fair
• WHERE: Downtown Manteca
• WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 1, & Sunday, Oct. 2, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

One of Manteca’s biggest weekends started with humble beginnings some 42 years ago.

George Perry – Manteca’s Pumpkin King – can remember when the gathering that has since become the annual Pumpkin Fair was just a bunch of growers getting together around the harvest season.

Pleasantries were exchanged. Their bounty was compared. And most of all, they were laying the groundwork for what would eventually become an ode to one of the biggest fall crops in the area – an event that would draw tens of thousands to the streets of Manteca every October.

“It has grown a lot since the (Sunrise) Kiwanis have started running it,” Perry said. “It’s a big event for Manteca now.”

On Saturday, Oct. 1, the Sunrise Kiwanis will kick off the 27th annual Manteca Pumpkin Fair throughout the streets of Downtown Manteca. With clear weather forecast for the weekend, crowds are expected to be large to serve the vendors that come from throughout the northwestern United States.

The big crowds will also give sponsors like South San Joaquin Irrigation District the chance to get out their message about their attempt to enter the retail power business – a campaign that has gotten stronger as the organization moves closer to their meeting before the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission – also known as LAFCo.

“It’s a good way for us to get out and spread the word about what we’re trying to do to prospective customers,” said SSJID Communications Coordinator Troylene Sayler. “We’re getting closer to our hearing date, and every little thing that we can do helps.”

Naturally, George Perry and Sons will lend their name as a sponsor to the event as they prepare and ship their fall pumpkin crop throughout the country and overseas – packaging and shipping them directly from the fields from which they are picked.

Other major sponsors include Valley Oak Dental, Financial Center Credit Union and Simplot.

The Pumpkin Fair will open Saturday at 10 a.m. and run until 6 p.m. The same hours apply to Sunday.

The carnival is in the parking lot next to Best Buy in the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley. It will run from 4 to 10 p.m. through Friday, and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m.