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Manteca Market & Music returns
FARMERS--Market Pic 1 copy
Hector Valadez checks on a pizza for a customer Tuesday afternoon at the Market and Music event in Downtown Manteca. The Riverbank-based company The Rock Oven Pizza is now in its second year at the weekly downtown event. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL/ The Bulletin

Dale Kuil loves farmer’s markets.
As an almond grower in Ripon, Kuil spends his days tending the 300 acres of trees that produce the tasty nut that has exploded in popularity all over the world.
So when he stands behind the table on a street in the communities that are close to his home he gets the chance to not only represent the literal fruits of his labor, but also form relationships with local people who love the fact that they get to speak to the person who grew what it is that they’re buying.
That sort of personal connection might have largely died out with the advent of the grocery store, but Kuil appreciates the chances that he gets to actually forge those bonds with the people that buy his almonds.
“What I really enjoy about this is actually talking to the people,” he said. “It’s not just the people who buy our commodity, but the people who are out here supporting local farmers. I’ve scaled back the number of these that I do now, but there’s something about the connection you get to make with people when you can actually talk to them.”
Despite temperatures that were approaching 100 degrees, hundreds of people flooded Manteca Avenue to get their hands on the freshest fruit available that was available for purchase from the farmers throughout the region that grew it themselves.
Cassi Jansen said that she looks forward to the Manteca event every summer and tries to come down every week not only because the produce is so good, but because it benefits local growers.
“I like being able to support the local farmers and this really gives you a chance to get to know the people who grow your food,” Jansen said. “The fruits are amazing and the vegetables are great and you just can’t get this level of produce at the grocery store. I’m really glad that we have this here in our community.”
It was also a chance for people to eat some of the things that they don’t have access to on a daily basis.
One of the vendors was selling kettle corn – always a popular staple at the Manteca Pumpkin Fair and the Crossroads Street Fair – while as many as a dozen people lined up to get a Lockeford Sausage.
Hector Valadez spent his afternoon making sure that the oven-fired pizzas that he was cooking up for customers were just right before cutting them up and placing them in boxes, and noted that there were several people who said they were looking forward to the tasty treat because they enjoyed them so much last year.
“It’s better to be working outside than it is inside and it’s fun to be out here talking to the customers,” said the Riverbank resident. “I’ve got family here so I enjoy coming to Manteca. And we’ve already had customers that said they came down just to get a pizza from us, so that’s always a good thing to hear.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.