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Final Touches For Park Fete
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Escalon's annual 'hometown gathering' known more formally as Park Fete is on the schedule for this weekend. Once again the Escalon Lions Club is hosting the event, bringing together community groups, entertainers, businesses and more to mark the celebration, and organizers are putting the final touches in place. The theme this year is "Where The Livin' Is Easy ..." and Escalon Premier Brands is the corporate sponsor.

Weather forecasters are predicting typical weather for the weekend, with sunny skies and highs in the low to mid-90s for the Fete.

The Saturday morning parade will feature race car driver and local resident Eric Holmes as its Grand Marshal and both Friday evening and the all day activities on Saturday are expected to provide something for everyone, said Lions Club board member and Fete co-organizer Ed Alves.

"We're adding a few new wrinkles," Alves said, noting that there will be a bull riding contest on Saturday afternoon.

That is under the direction of local bullfighter Dennis Borba and includes an extra admission fee, with the bull riding ring set up in an area adjacent to the Main Street Park.

Alves and Mike Caskey, also a Lions Club member, have been working together to coordinate the event. Alves said the key is a "good committee," with everyone willing to pitch in and help out to get the job done.

Booths will open for business Friday afternoon, there will be entertainment that night and Saturday will feature the Park Fete Run, Masonic Lodge breakfast, the parade, horseshoe tournament, music throughout the day, square dance demonstration, bull riding, food and merchandise booths, and more.

Events this week leading up to the Park Fete weekend are the Miss Escalon and the Little Miss and Mr. Escalon pageants. Miss Escalon will be crowned tonight, Wednesday, July 7 at the Community Center and the crowns for Little Miss and Mr. Escalon will be presented Thursday night, also at the Community Center. A Tuesday luncheon, July 6, honored Senior Mr. and Mrs. Escalon Jim and Esther Payne.

"We're all about Escalon," Alves said, noting that the Lions Club returned the festival to its roots when they took it over a few years ago, highlighting local vendors and businesses.

"The Lions run the Park Fete but we donate all the money we make," Alves added.

Much of the money goes toward scholarships for graduating Escalon High School seniors, and this year the club provided almost $20,000 in scholarships.

More than anything, Alves said, Park Fete gives current and former residents a chance to get together and reminisce.

"I had a lady call me from Missouri, she can't wait to come back," he pointed out. "Generally, it's nice to bump into people you haven't seen in a while."

Alves said he enjoys several aspects of Park Fete, from the honors luncheon for Senior Mr. and Mrs. Escalon to the parade.

"It's a variety," he agreed of what draws the crowd on Fete weekend. "Mostly it's the camaraderie. You see the depth of this community when you see the history of this event."

Lions Club members have been working with the community to get the event pulled together over the last few months.

"The committee does all the work," Alves said. "I run a tight ship and they're a great help."