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Pumpkin Fair, mural dedication this weekend
PUMPKIN PREP1-10-6-12a
Sunrise Kiwanis members Arvin Reed and Veronica DeBrum helped unload tables Friday for the beer garden at Wilson Park in preparation for the Manteca Pumpkin Fair in downtown today and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. - photo by HIME ROMERO


WHAT: 28th annual Sunrise Kiwanis downtown Manteca Pumpkin Fair
WHEN: Today and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days
WHERE: Downtown Manteca in the triangle formed by Center Street, Main Street and the railroad tracks
SCHEDULE: See Pumpkin Fair ad on Page 5 of today’s Living in the 209 section.

Pumpkin fun rolls into downtown Manteca today and Sunday for the 28th annual Pumpkin Fair.

The weekend includes:

• Main Stage entertainment ranging from Jim Anderson and the Rebels with their popular salute to Elvis Presley to the dynamic 10-piece East Bay Mudd band that specializes in Motown R&B , swing and contemporary classics.

• Nearly 200 vendors offering everything from arts and crafts and unique commercial items to free stuff.

• Free pumpkin games for kids including pie eating, pumpkin seed spitting, and pumpkin rolling.

• Pumpkin baking and pumpkin carving contests plus a scarecrow contest.

• Two days of community entertainment.

• Antique tractor show.

• Car show on Sunday.

• Street fair food.

• Baseball mural dedication at 10 a.m. in Library Park.

Picture perfect autumn weather - some clouds and a high of 77 degrees both days - are expected to make the 28th annual edition of the Sunrise Kiwanis Pumpkin Fair ideal for people watching as well.

How Manteca tradition started

The Manteca tradition started more than four decades ago as a way to demonstrate community pride after the upstart Half Moon Bay folks tried to declare they were the Pumpkin Capital of the World. That’s kind of hard to claim, of course, when almost 80 percent of the commercially grown pumpkin crop in California comes from the fields surrounding Manteca.

The original pumpkin fair was put together by pumpkin growers who piled a bunch of pumpkins and hay stacks in Library Park and had an impromptu crowning of Miss Manteca Pumpkin.

That led to a challenge from Half Moon Bay, press coverage in “People” magazine, and the birth of a Manteca tradition.

The fair kept getting bigger and starting pulling in big name acts when they were hot including Tim Herdon. The also moved from venue to venue each year.

Twenty-eight years ago the Sunrise Kiwanis took over the event and eventually returned it to its roots downtown.

They found out that good old-fashioned, laid back, hometown fun was the way to go. They routinely draw 30,000 people over the two-day fair to the downtown triangle formed by Center Street, Main Street, and the railroad tracks.

By keeping the event free, they were able to make it affordable as a simple family outing.

As entertainment goes it’s pretty tough to beat watching kids bury their faces into slices of pumpkin pie with their hands behind their back, trying to spit pumpkin seeds, rolling pumpkins or any of the Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn type of games that are all free.

Longtime Manteca residents also know the best place to buy pumpkins is at the Kid Zone given the pricing made possible through generous donations of the orange gourds to the service club from area pumpkin growers.

Kiwanis do it all for free so they can serve non-profits

It takes more than 30 to 40 volunteers working year round to pull of the event. No one is paid allowing all of the proceeds to be plowed right back into the community. To date, more than $550,000 has been raised by the Kiwanis that in turn has been distributed to various community-based concerns.

That is in addition to the special access day held in conjunction with the Pumpkin Fair for special needs youth and adults., This year, 2,500 special needs people attended Pumpkin Fair related fun at Dell’Osso Farms.