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Community Embracing Festive 100th Park Fete

A busy week in Escalon will culminate with two days of fun and activities centered around the Main Street Park, as residents gather to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the city’s Park Fete.

A century old, the ‘Fete’ began as basically a lawn party to celebrate the park in 1922, as detailed in a history of the event available at the Escalon Historical Society Museum. This week’s issue of The Times also includes a commemorative 100-year Park Fete special section, featuring excerpts from several decades, detailing the history and sharing photos of past events.

“As far as the Park Fete planning goes, we are blessed with a good group of people who are doing a wonderful job,” said Escalon Mayor Ed Alves, who is also a member of the sponsoring Lions Club organization. “It’s the dedicated help we have every year that makes it work.”

He pointed to significant financial contributions from a couple of local businessmen as also being important, though he noted those donors did not want public recognition.

Activities leading up to the Friday and Saturday, Aug. 5 and 6 main event were to include the Senior Mr. and Mrs. Escalon luncheon on Tuesday, Aug. 2 – past press time for The Times – honoring Tom and Sally Hale; with the Miss Escalon pageant on Wednesday, Aug. 3 at 6 p.m. and the Little Miss and Mr. Escalon pageant on Thursday, Aug. 4 at 7 p.m.

All those events are scheduled at the Escalon Community Center.

Miss Escalon hopefuls this year are: Haylee Castro, Gracie Bracco, Makayla Wentzell, Jessica Pantoja, Olivia Beebe, Johanna Romero, Bailey Dugo, Isabella Nalbandian, Emelyn Mancilla and Ashley Wells.

The contestants in the Little Miss and Mr. Pageant are Maci Bennet, Harlee Castro, Briar Dasilva, Abigail Engle, Everleigh Flick, Aleigh Gaines, Austin Genseal, Grady Johnson, Olivia Kost, Tinley Lombardi, Lincoln McManis, Andre Melo, Jacob Pinheiro, Maverick Pires, Jezebel Pires and Raegan Shepherd.

Booths in and around the Main Street Park will open at 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5 and at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6. The parade starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 6 with Grand Marshal Roy Langum having a seat of honor this year.

Entertainment on the Main Street stage will be featured Friday evening and throughout much of the day on Saturday. Musical groups will range from returning favorite Remedy to the popular band Gotcha Covered, serving as headliners on Saturday night. Dancers from the local Powerhouse Dance Studio will also take the stage and typically bring in a huge crowd of supporters.

Friday evening will feature the seventh annual Cornhole Tournament, this year with Lions Club member Jeremy Engle serving as coordinator; he can be contacted at 209-505-1929 for more information. Registration is $30 per team for pre-registration by Aug. 4; day of the event registration will run from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at a cost of $40 per team. The Park Fete 10k and two-mile runs are set for Saturday morning. Runs start at the El Portal Middle School parking lot on First Street with the 10k at 7:15 a.m.; the two-mile at 7:30 a.m.

Both events are $30, and participants will get a shirt, medal and snacks, with a cash prize awarded to the first male and female finisher in each race.

Register online at or on-site race day starting at 6:15 a.m.

Horseshoe competition will be hosted on Saturday with sign-ups at 11 a.m.; competition at noon, with a cost of $20 per team.

Some special fun and games are planned as well, with a chalk art contest at 9 a.m. Saturday, the junior stick horse rodeo at 11:30 a.m., kids Big Wheel races at noon and a Watermelon Eating Contest hosted by the Chamber of Commerce at 2 p.m. Saturday; sign up at the Chamber booth by 12:30 p.m.

Escalon Fire Department is scheduled to be on hand to host a ‘bucket brigade’ event and there will also be a Fast Draw demonstration by the Sierra Gun Hawks and the opportunity for attendees to try out the sport. The Kids Corral returns as well, providing free activities for the younger set.

Carnival rides and games, vendor booths, food and drinks will be available as well. The Lions Club will host its Beer Booth and the Wine Booth will be hosted by the Escalon Parks Foundation.

All in all, it will be a weekend of fun for the entire family, said organizers.

Alves noted that the pre-Fete activities and the two days of the actual Park Fete celebration zero in on the history and true community feel of Escalon.

“It’s our identity, it’s what makes us what we are,” Alves said of Park Fete and other community-centric events such as the Autumn Cruise car show and Christmas on Main. “Bottom line is it requires a certain effort to retain what we have … it’s priceless.”