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Schempers family celebrates 10th year with Taste of Ripon
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The celebration of the 10th anniversary of the modern Schemper’s Hardware building on Wilma Avenue and West Main Street is being coordinated with the “Taste of Ripon” wine stroll that is scheduled to begin at 6 p. m. tonight.
When the center opened Starbucks Coffee was a key attraction as was the Ripon Video store offering video rentals for home viewing entertainment.
Schemper’s owner Ward Schemper has ordered a 30X40 foot tent for the event to coincide with the light-hearted and festive annual wine and finger food social.  All of his businesses in the shopping center have been invited to share the tent plus three wineries including Ripon’s Luca Winery on River Road.  Another off-site business to join in the celebration will be Save Mart Market and its manager Mike Moreno.
Other stores planning to be under the tent include Round Table Pizza, Oak Valley Bank, Baskin-Robbins ice cream, Ripon Café and All Glam’d Up.
Ripon almond farmer Les Eastburg, at 96, who claims to be the oldest in the community to be born in the same house he lives in today, shared his memories with Schemper inside the hardware store on Wednesday morning. 
Eastburg recalled the first store was located on Main Street’s 100 block near Swier Tire Co.  He added that the second was across Main Street from a Market in the 200 block and the third in a former grocery store that now houses the Ripon Library.  He was at the store to buy a wall switch for his lights at home on his almond ranch on Mohler Road.
He said he can remember driving over the railroad tracks to get to Schemper’s and downtown Ripon before the two lane Highway 99 became a modern freeway.  He recalled a shoe shop downtown next to a hamburger stand where he said he would watch the cook put a burger together never washing his hands.  “And, none of us ever got sick,” he said.  “Your dad (Leonard) and I brought almonds into Ripon on trucks in about 1943 or 1944.”
Three shuttle buses will be running up and down Main Street in the downtown to take people from the 27 shops and stores in the central business district to the other end of town and to the Schemper’s celebration.  All will be offering wine selections and finger foods to the expected 500 community members.
The bus stops are planned for Stockton Avenue and Main Street, Acacia and Main Street and Wilma and Main Street at the west end of the strolling and tasting event. Ripon Chamber of Commerce President Tamra Spade said this will be the biggest event yet with the most participants paying the $35 fee to enjoy the company of their friends and those they meet behind the counters of Ripon stores.
Tasters can pick up their wine glasses at the side door of the Ripon Library before they begin their walks down Main Street. Participants must be 21 to be part of the evening where a sound system will present Christmas in song up and down the street.