Pumpkin fun in Manteca this weekend
The 36th annual Sunrise Kiwanis Manteca Pumpkin Fair which takes place downtown on Saturday and Sunday is more than just a street fair.
The event – started nearly half a century ago by growers in the area to draw attention to the local culture that makes up more than 80 percent of all commercially grown pumpkins in California – has raised over $ 1 million to help Manteca area nonprofits since sunrise. Kiwanis took over.
The non-profit organizations that benefit from it run the gamut from youth organizations and efforts to help the elderly to community groups such as the Historical Society of Manteca.
Each year, the organizers select three non-profit associations. This year, three local nonprofits were selected to each receive the net proceeds. The three organizations and their mission statements are:
*AGAPE VILLAGES HOST FAMILY AGENCY: Agape Villages mobilizes community resources to provide quality housing, innovative solutions and the best professional services to disadvantaged children and their families to meet their needs, maximize their potential and lead them to a better and brighter future.
*FRIENDS OF MANTECA FUTURE AGRICULTURERS OF AMERICA: Our alumni group is dedicated to supporting Manteca High School students in agricultural education and FFA, with the resources they need to maximize opportunities within the organization that will in turn help them become leaders in their schools and communities.
*JOHN CAMBRA AGRICULTURE / MECHANICAL SCHOLARSHIP FUND: Established in 2009, we provide financial support to graduates, college and trade school students pursuing careers in agriculture and / or mechanics.
The free event takes place Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
There is a tractor show on Saturday and a car show on Sunday.
The popular Kids’ Zone takes place at Library Park and features free activities such as a pumpkin pie tasting contest, pumpkin roll, and pumpkin seed spit, among others.
There will be over 200 vendors of other food, crafts, clothing and other items.
The Pumpkin Fair has two free entertainment venues: the Community Stage and the Main Stage.
The main stage and beer garden are in Wilson Park, behind the post office. This is where the free Pumpkin Fair after Dark takes place on Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
This year’s feature film presented on a 120 inch screen is the horror comedy classic “Beetlejuice”.
The snack bar and beer sales will be open until 8 p.m.
The initial event for the Manteca area pumpkin growers was in response to Half Moon Bay hosting a pumpkin festival and proclaiming they were the pumpkin capital of the world.
Considering the tonnage of pumpkins shipped from Manteca each year – in 2020 there were 75,100 tonnes with a wholesale value of $ 31.88 million – the claim was a bit absurd.
At the first event, the producers simply took hay bales to Library Park, then stacked pumpkins there, and put on entertainment for the late Pat O’Leary that ultimately consisted of a belly dancer. The total effort only lasted a few hours.
The event began to gain momentum with the arrival of the undead Manteca Jaycees.
The Sunrise Kiwanis leveled up after the Jaycees disbanded.
They took the paid model the Jaycees used a step further and got national music numbers. This required larger places and locations that could be better secured. They also landed several promising musical numbers which, by the time they performed at the Pumpkin Fair, were at the top of their respective music charts, such as country singer Ty Herdon. Venues included the Oakwood Amphitheater where the Oakwood Shores gated community is now located, the former Manteca Rodeo Ground where Bass Pro Shops are now located, and the Manteca Industrial Park, among others.
The service club decided 20 years ago to put the Pumpkin Fair back to its roots, eschewed big name entertainment, lowered admission fees, and moved downtown on the first weekend of ‘October.
For more information, visit mantecapumpkinfair.org
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email [email protected]