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Manteca youth serve watermelon at SJ Fair
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From left, John Shaughnessy, Hannah Goe, and Nate Padilla of Manteca Youth Focus entice fairgoers with juicy slices of Perry & Sons watermelon. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT


• PLACE: San Joaquin County Fair
• DATES: Today & Sunday
• LOCATION: Fairgrounds at Airport Way and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Stockton.
• HOURS OF OPERATION: Buildings, noon to 10 p.m.; midway, noon to midnight; carnival, noon to midnight; exhibit and livestock, noon to 10 p.m.
• ADMISSION: $3 for adults, 13 and older; children 12 and under, free

STOCKTON – Shim Lacy was praying for a hot day.

As one of the co-founders and director for Manteca Youth Focus, she was helping out at the booth inside the Community Exhibits and Ag Mechanics building during Friday’s San Joaquin County Fair.

“What’s a good, healthy way to cool off but with a nice slice of watermelon,” Lacy said.

Weather conditions in Stockton got up in the near 90s on this day.

For the third year, Manteca Youth Focus partnered with local growers, George Perry & Sons. But she noted that this was the first time working the fair, selling watermelon $1 per slice with Manteca Youth Focus getting 100 percent of the proceeds going towards the scholarship program.

“We’ve worked the (Manteca) Crossroads Street Faire and Pumpkin Fair,” said Lacy.

She added: “We will be here (at the fair) from 2 to 6 p.m., offering delicious, locally-grown watermelons.”

Perry & Sons is one of the largest shippers and handlers of seedless and regular watermelons, pumpkin, and a variety of hard-shell squash. They’re scheduled to do a cooking demonstration at the fair this weekend, using gourds and squash.

The finale of the five-day run of the fair is Sunday.

“We raked up several $100 dollars in watermelon sales since the fair started (last Wednesday),” said Lacy.

Since 1995, Manteca Youth Focus has awarded scholarships to those ages 10 to 21 in the Manteca Unified school system.

For young people, among the goals for this non-profit organization include leadership development, furthering education goals, developing personal talents, and volunteering to do service projects.

That’s what John Shaughnessy did earlier that day, waking up at 4:30 a.m. to help out with “Flags over Manteca” by 5 o’clock.

A recent graduate of East Union High, he’s enjoyed his nearly one-year involvement with Manteca Youth Focus.

“It’s been fun thus far,” said Shaughnessy, who worked the fair booth alongside last year’s Ms. Teen Focus Hannah Goe and Nate Padilla.

“Ag and kids – that’s what Manteca is all about,” Lacy said.