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Pumpkin Fair carnival taking place week after downtown event
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  • WHAT: Sunrise Kiwanis Manteca Pumpkin Fair
  • WHEN: Saturday-Sunday Oct. 3-4
  • WHERE: Downtown Manteca
  • FOR INFO: Information on vendor booths, the scarecrow contest, and the car show are available by going to or by calling the hotline at 1-800-592-7419.

Pumpkin Fair time for years in Manteca meant street fair-style fun along with a carnival.

The move earlier this decade to its popular downtown venue required the carnival take place at a satellite location. Still, there were complaints from some that it was taxing to hit the street fair and then take the kids to a carnival that was 10 or so blocks away.

That won’t be a problem this year.

The Sunrise Kiwanis are staging the Pumpkin Fair carnival a week after the main event takes place in downtown.

The carnival will take place Oct. 7-12 on the northeast corner of Daniels Street and Airport Way kitty corner from the Stadium Retail Center.

The 25th anniversary of the Sunrise Kiwanis Manteca Pumpkin Fair is the weekend of Oct. 3-4 in downtown Manteca.

The event draws more than 30,000 people to enjoy everything from a street fair, musical entertainment, fun run, and food to pumpkin contests.

The event actually was started 40 years ago as a low-key affair by Manteca pumpkin growers who were a bit miffed that Half Moon Bay was declaring itself the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.” Such claims are always dubious but in Manteca’s case they had plenty of evidence to prove they were the undisputed Pumpkin Capital of California with 80 percent of the commercial Halloween pumpkin crop grown and shipped from the Manteca area.

That first event included a stack of pumpkins surrounded by hay and contests such as pumpkin rolling. The friendly dispute ultimately landed Manteca on the front page of People magazine and gave birth to an annual Manteca tradition.

The now defunct Manteca Jaycees took the event over from the pumpkin growers. It was under the tutelage of the Sunrise Kiwanis, though, that the event became what it is today – a free community affair that draws big crowds much to the advantage of vendors plus raises major bucks for local non-profits.

Contests for scarecrows,
pumpkin carving &
pumpkin desserts

This year’s Pumpkin Fair includes numerous contests.

A pumpkin carving contest takes place on Saturday, Oct, 3, at 1 p.m. at the Kids Zone at Library Park. You have to pre-carve your pumpkin as no knives, scissors, or any kind of carving tool are allowed at the Pumpkin fair and will be confiscated.

The categories are scariest, silliest, and most original. The carved pumpkins will be kept on display throughout the fair. Prizes will be awarded.

The pumpkin baking/cooking dessert contest is Sunday, Oct. 4, at 2 p.m. There are four categories – pies, cookies, cake and other. Bring copies of your recipes as they will be included in a future Pumpkin Fair recipe book. There will be prizes.

A “Build a Scarecrow” contest is open to children ages 5 to 18 who attend school in Manteca. They are encouraging individual students, or classrooms to build a scarecrow.  Each of the scarecrows will be judged during the Pumpkin Fair, and then displayed throughout the weekend for visitors to see.  There will be prizes awarded to the contest winners.  The Kiwanis have also partnered with Dell’Osso Farms to have the entries transported from the Pumpkin Fair to the Pumpkin Maze, to be displayed until Halloween.  The Kiwanis contest is independent from any contest offered through the Dell’Osso Farm Pumpkin Maze.

Scarecrows will be judged in the following 7 divisions: Students grades K – 5, students grades 6 – 8, students grades 9 – 12, classes grades K – 5, classes grades 6 – 8, classes grades 9 – 12, and after school programs grades 1- 6.

Judging will take place on Saturday, Oct. 3, in the Kids Zone, located in Library Park at 11 a.m.

The Kiwanis are adding a “Dance with the Stars” contest, a pumpkin scavenger hunt, as well as offering a limited supply of 25th anniversary wine glasses and 25th anniversary T-shirts for sale.

The car show this year will feature 13 categories and has a $25 entry fee.

The money raised for Manteca non-profits is impressive. The Manteca Pumpkin Fair has allowed the Sunrise Kiwanis to pump $511,267 into non-profit organizations since 1984. That doesn’t include what a number of local non-profits raise with their booths that sell everything from pumpkin pie to raffle tickets right alongside the commercial as well as art and craft vendors. The marquee charities benefitting from the Pumpkin Fair this year are the Raymus House/HOPE Family Shelter, Every 15 Minutes, and Manna Ministries.