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Small army of volunteers make street fair work
Manteca Convention & Business Events Manager Errol Schmall marks vendor spots with temporary spray paint on Maple Avenue near Yosemite Avenue. - photo by HIME ROMERO


• WHAT: 15th annual Crossroads of California Street Fair
• WHERE: Downtown Manteca
• WHEN: Saturday, Today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. & Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• MORE INFO: Call the Manteca Visitors Center at 823-7229

Jesse Ramirez has been planning for the 15th annual Crossroads Street Faire for months.

But instead of fine-tuning what he’s going to place in his booth and deciding what would maximize his business exposure, Ramirez – the chairman of the Manteca Community Emergency Response Team – has been working on the logistics of organizing a team of volunteers that makes a two-day event that draws upwards of 40,000 visitors possible.

And it isn’t easy work.

“I would spend between four and six hours working on individual assignments for the volunteers that we have to make sure that everything is covered, and then have meetings with the CERT members so that everyone is on the same page,” Ramirez said. “I think that events like this are good practice for the CERT team in case there ever is an emergency that we need to respond to.

“There’s a lot of organizing that goes into making this possible, and I know that personally I just like being able to help out wherever I can.”

On Friday afternoon, nearly two dozen of the almost one hundred volunteers expected to help make the Street Faire run smoothly gathered in the McFall Room at the Manteca Public Library to go over the basic strategy of the weekend – which starts at 3:30 this morning for those who are helping to check in vendors who come early to make sure they have everything in place for the 10 a.m. start to the festival.

Between community groups like the Boy Scouts, CERT, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Manteca Police Explorers and regular volunteers, every facet of the two-day festival – which is expected to draw an even larger crowd thanks to an unusually warm spell that has hit the valley – will be covered.

“Starting (Saturday) at 3:30 a.m. is the fun part,” Ramirez said with a chuckle. “That’s when all of the work we put in for planning finally starts to pay off and we get to see people out having a good time. It’s a good training exercise for the members of the CERT team, and it’s a good collaborative effort between lots of different groups in the city.”

Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker will be on site with Public Affairs Officer Rex Osborn and Captain Charlie Goeken to help handle any problems that arise – providing police presence without having to charge the CVB for uniformed officers assigned to the two-day event. The Manteca Fire Department will provide firefighters for basic EMS support.

According to CVB Executive Director Linda Abeldt, the team of volunteers – which includes some that have been part of the event for all 15 years of its existence – are truly the driving force behind making the Crossroads Street Faire possible.

“They are the ones that really make this happen,” Abeldt said. “We have such a wonderful and dedicated group, and there’s no possible way that we could pull this off if it weren’t for their dedication and their time.”