Put on by the Escalon Lions Club with major corporate sponsorship from Escalon Premier Brands, the annual Escalon Park Fete celebration played out under sunny skies and brought good-sized crowds to the community throughout the week.
While the bulk of downtown activity was late Friday afternoon into Saturday night, there was also a variety of festivities scattered throughout the week to keep residents busy and entertained. (See additional story, photos on Pages A2 and A3.)
Music was nearly non-stop on the Main Street Stage, though there were a few breaks for special performances by the Singles Skirts ‘n Flirts Square Dance Club and a number of groups studying at Powerhouse Dance Studio, putting their best collective feet forward in a series of numbers in front of an appreciative crowd.
Rides for the kids, games with prizes, plenty of food and booths offering everything from jewelry to Scentsy items, toys to books by a local author, there was plenty to see and do everywhere you turned.
Friday featured several groups on the stage and the start of the kiddie carnival, with all that activity continuing on Saturday but also including a pancake breakfast, the Park Fete run, the parade, horseshoe tournament and the bull riding competition put on by Dennis Borba.
Winners of the horseshoe tournament – which drew 24 teams – was the Oakdale duo of Greg Soper and Bob Flores, taking home $240 for the win. Second place, $160, went to Riverbank brothers Joe and Lee Guitron and the Smokin’ Ringers team took third, good for an $80 payout.
On the bull riding front, with competitors from the US, Mexico and Native Americans in the mix, Sammy Mathews of Springville topped all riders for the victory. Second place honors went to Wyatt Hammond of Oakdale and taking third was Randy Schaapman of Manteca. High point bulls, both from the Dennis Borba line, were El Diablo and Sugarland.
At the festival itself, the sponsoring Lions Club hosted its popular beer booth while near the caboose, members of the Escalon Parks Foundation poured wines at their Wine Garden, with proceeds benefiting the Escalon Skate Park project.
Longtime Escalon resident Minnie Laugero rode in the parade as the Grand Marshal, with the half-hour long event also including dancing horses, the Escalon Outlaws program, vintage autos, the Escalon American Legion Post with its colorguard and American Legion Riders, animal entries, local service clubs the Lions, Rotary and Kiwanis and more.
“I like the rides and spending time with my friends,” said 11-year-old Gracie Azevedo, taking a break to enjoy a slice of pizza on Friday night.
“I pretty much come every year,” added Abby Zachariou, almost 12. She has been in the parade in the past as well, with the Outlaws cheerleaders.
Former resident Morris Garcia had his book, ‘Henry The Brave Little Tractor’ for sale and was autographing copies, while former Senior Mr. and Mrs. Escalon honorees Sket and Angie Franceschetti were taking in the sights and sounds while enjoying a linguica lunch on Saturday.
“As an Italian, I never thought I’d eat linguica,” joked Franceschetti. “But I married a ‘Portagee’.”
At the petting zoo adjacent to the dog and cat adoption event, young Alexandra Davis was settling in for some snuggle time with a fluffy, white bunny.
“Mommy can we get a rabbit?” she asked.
From sno cones to pizza, spinning teacup rides to the giant slide, Escalon’s annual Park Fete offered something for everyone to enjoy in a festive week of fun and community pride.
“It has gone well,” said a busy but pleased Lions Club member, parade emcee and overall ‘field general’ Robert Swift. “A lot of fun.”