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Pumpkin party still on a roll after 40 years
Michelle Bettencourt watches her daughter Abigail, 2, throws a pumpkin strike. - photo by HIME ROMERO


• WHAT: Sunrise Kiwanis Manteca Pumpkin Fair
• WHEN: Today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• WHERE: Downtown Manteca

Forty years ago George Perry was among the pumpkin growers who decided to do something about the braggarts in Half Moon Bay who claimed they were the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.”

Perry along with fellow growers John Azevedo, Dave Celli, and Albert Fonseca got together and put together the first Manteca Pumpkin Fair. It was a simple affair. They hauled in some hay stacks to Library Park, brought in truckloads of pumpkin, and had some simple pumpkin kids’ games.

They even named a Miss Pumpkin. Entertainment consisted of a pair of belly dancers.

Four decades later, the Pumpkin Fair is still going strong – minus the belly dancers.

And you don’t even have to ask Perry what part he likes best. It’s watching the kid’ eyes light up as they search the impromptu pumpkin patch located next to the kids’ games in Library Park.

Perry – along with his wife Violet – strolled the Pumpkin Fair Saturday visiting with friends as neighbors as they browsed the vendor booths and enjoyed the free entertainment.

Perry is now in his 75th year of growing and marketing pumpkins. Perry & Sons now is the largest pumpkin distributor on the West Coast with close to 80 percent of all pumpkins sold for ornamental purposes in California coming from the fields surrounding Manteca.

The Pumpkin Fair – now in its 25th year under the tutelage of the Sunrise Kiwanis – continues today in downtown Manteca in the triangle bounded by Center Street, Main Street, and the Union Pacific Railroad. It runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

There is a car show today in the 100 block of East Yosemite Avenue.

You can also inspect tractors in front of the post office on Maple Avenue. Besides the vendors, food, and kids’ game you can enjoy free entertainment. You can also inspect work on the latest community mural – “Manteca Snow” – taking shape in the 100 block of Manteca Avenue across from Library Park. “Manteca Snow” is a tribute to the almond blossom season in Manteca.

The Main Stage entertainment sponsored by Budweiser next to the Manteca Library at Wilson Park features Red Di at noon and Sky Kings at 4 p.m.

The Gazebo/Community Stage line-up today at Library Park includes:

11:00-11:25 - Ashley Parker

11:30-11:55 - Manteca PD Canine Show

12:00-12:25 - Stephanie Terrill

12:30-12:55 - Brittany LeLand

1:00-1:25 - Felicia Zapata

1:30-1:55 - Dance Stars

2:00-2:25 - Amanda Gray

2:30-2:55 - Kennedy & Company

3:00-3:25 - Manteca Dancing with the stars

3:30-3:55 - Manteca Youth

Focus Title Holders

4:00-4:25 - Lisa Rowe

4:30-4:55 - Mello Hall Family