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Escalon Plans Annual Park Fete Celebration
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Temperatures are predicted to be about normal - in the mid-90s - for this time of year, and the weekend looks like it should provide a fitting backdrop for Escalon's annual Park Fete celebration.

There won't be any shortage of activities to enjoy and although the annual Park Fete is often seen as a 'reunion' for the community, residents from the surrounding areas are also welcome to attend and enjoy the music, parade, pageantry, food and fun. (See special section, Pages A7 - A10.)

"Our theme is 'Lion in the Sun' and it's kind of a play on words," said Escalon Lions Club member Ed Alves, who is serving as co-coordinator of the Park Fete with fellow Lion Mike Caskey.

The Lions Club took over running the annual event several years ago and corporate sponsorship is again coming this year from Escalon Premier Brands and supplemental support from the City of Escalon. Alves also pointed to the financial assistance this year offered by local resident Earl 'E.J.' Rodgers, helping finance the festivities celebrating Senior Mr. and Mrs. Escalon, Sket and Angie Franceschetti. Rodgers has expressed an interest in getting involved, said Alves, and it is people like Rodgers and their willingness to help out that will keep the Park Fete growing in the years to come.

"We have five or six people, we plot it out over about four months," Alves explained of the main steering committee. There are also multiple subcommittees dealing with everything from the parade to entertainment.

"The parade hopefully will be as good as it always is, the Lions Club will have its beer booth and this year, we're going to have a wine booth, we're working with the Parks Foundation and that will benefit their skate park project," said Alves.

The Senior Mr. and Mrs. Escalon luncheon was on Tuesday, with the Miss Escalon Pageant set for today, Wednesday, July 11 and Little Miss and Mr. Escalon coming up Thursday, July 12.

On Friday, July 13, the Park Fete officially begins, with vendor booths open for business starting at 4 p.m.

Carnival rides for the kids will open at 5 p.m. and entertainment at the Main Street stage starts at 6:30 p.m. with the Rangers and closes out with the Tailights on stage from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Saturday, July 14 will be a blur of activity. From 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., breakfast will be served at the Masonic Hall on Viking Street with a cost of $7 for adults, and race day registration for the annual Park Fete run starts at 6:30 a.m. at El Portal Middle School on First Street. The races, a 2-mile and 10K, take off at 7:30 a.m.

Vendor booths and the carnival open at 10 a.m. and the parade this year will start a little later, stepping off at 11 a.m.

Staging for the parade, at Second and Coley, will begin at 10 a.m. and the parade route will run from Coley to First to Main.

The popular Horseshoe Tournament will be offered at the park horseshoe pits, with registration from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and the competition starting at 12:30 p.m. There is a cost of $20 per team and winning payouts go to the top three finishers.

The city's Main Street Historical Society and Museum will be open for tours on Saturday and will also offer up a couple of paintings in a drawing, with proceeds to benefit the Society. Artists contributing works to the drawing are former area resident and award-winning artist Dean Packer, as well as local Oak Valley Art Society member and current artist of the month Corrie Davis, an Escalon resident.

Throughout the day on Saturday, there will be entertainment on stage, ranging from the Power House Dance Studio performers to individual artists like LilLana Cajias and groups like the 209 All Stars, the headliner band taking the stage at 9 p.m. Saturday. Also back is the Saturday evening bull riding competition, put on by matador Dennis Borba and featuring two dozen competitors.

"The whole focus is for us to give the community a celebration," Alves said. "We want people to come and enjoy themselves."