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All-Escalon Celebration Wows Crowd For 100th Anniversary
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Rides and games in the carnival area were a big draw for the younger set over the weekend, while music, food, vendor booths and more were also part of the festivities to mark the 100th anniversary of the city’s Park Fete celebration. Marg Jackson/The Times

It was the best of everything that makes Escalon what it is: a small, close-knit community that focuses on family.

And there was something for everyone at the annual Park Fete celebration, which marked its 100th anniversary this year. Festivities began with the luncheon for Senior Mr. and Mrs. Escalon Tom and Sally Hale on Tuesday, Aug. 2. Incoming Escalon High School senior Isabella Nalbandian captured the title of Miss Escalon on Wednesday evening, Aug. 3 and on Thursday, Aug. 4 it was the Little Miss and Mr. Escalon pageant, with Jezebel Pires and Lincoln McManis chosen as the young royalty.

“I was totally surprised, I thought I didn’t win anything, honestly,” said the new Miss Escalon following the Wednesday night crowning.

“It was so amazing,” Nalbandian added of participating in the pageant itself with the other nine Miss Escalon hopefuls. “All the girls are incredibly so nice and going into this, I just really thought it was going to be nothing like this at all and I’m just proud of myself that I got up here and did it.”

Parents Bob and Toni Nalbandian were proud of their daughter but had to share her for plenty of photo opportunities following the pageant. First runner up was Jessica Pantoja, second runner up and Miss Congeniality was Bailey Dugo. Miss Inspirational was Gracie Bracco and Miss Photogenic was Olivia Beebe. Pageant coordinators were Samantha Corriea and Sierra Johnson, while the outgoing Miss Escalon 2021 Madison Hagglund served as the event emcee.

Thursday night, the Little Miss and Mr. Escalon pageant saw several contestants take the stage at the Community Center, performing a dance routine, answering questions and vying for the chance to represent the city at various events.

Five-year-old Little Mr. Escalon Lincoln McManis said he was most looking forward to being in the parade.

“I’m just so proud of him,” noted mom Stefanie McManis.

On stage, six-year-old Little Miss Escalon Jezebel Pires was asked about her favorite book and told the crowd it was the “Itty Bitty Unicorn” because unicorns “are magical.”

She also had a throng of well-wishers coming to greet her after receiving her crown and sash.

On Park Fete opening day Friday, Aug. 5 there were plenty of people turning out to enjoy the carnival area, food, beverages, vendor booths and nearly nonstop entertainment on stage.

More of the same was served up on Saturday and the fast draw demonstrations by the Sierra Gun Hawks/Oakdale Cowboys were popular, as were a variety of games for kids, such as the stick horse and Big Wheel races on Main Street.

Mayor Ed Alves, who is also a member of the sponsoring Lions Club organization, said the Park Fete was well attended, provided an outstanding array of activities and brought the community together for a true hometown reunion.

“Escalon is such a great city, and to celebrate 100 years (of Park Fete), it’s a big accomplishment,” added Supervisor Robert Rickman, who represents Escalon on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors and was enjoying the event on Saturday. “This is what small town America is all about; the community coming together and celebrating this great city of Escalon … it’s just wonderful.”

Crowned as young royalty following the Thursday night, Aug. 4 Little Mr. and Miss Escalon pageant, Lincoln McManis and Jezebel Pires were all smiles and ready to begin their year-long reign. Marg Jackson/The Times
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Little Ripper, a five-year-old rescue Chihuahua, was definitely one of the coolest dogs at Park Fete, sporting his sunglasses while being held by mom, Sara Hagan. Marg Jackson/The Times
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Newly crowned Miss Escalon 2022 Isabella Nalbandian, center, is all smiles as she is embraced by well-wishing friends following the Wednesday night, Aug. 3 Miss Escalon pageant. Marg Jackson/The Times