A redesigned vendor area, a new fun zone featuring games and activities for kids, the popular bull riding and non-stop music with state-of-the-art stage production, the 2014 Escalon Park Fete celebration featured a couple of festive days of fun.
Temperatures peaked in the mid-90s, making for a bearable summer weekend, and there was no shortage of activities for attendees to enjoy.
Multiple musical groups performed on stage Friday night, throughout the day and into the evening on Saturday, while specialty acts including Ravioli the clown and Powerhouse Dance Studio also brought some entertainment to the crowd.
Saturday’s packed schedule included the early morning run (See story and photos in Sports, Page A13) and the parade, with Grand Marshal Wendell Naraghi honored for his contributions to the community.
Earlier in the week, Senior Mr. and Mrs. Escalon Lee and Sandy Rigg were feted at a luncheon, while the pageantry of Little Miss and Mr. Escalon and the Miss Escalon gala were hosted at the Community Center. Darian Caton was named Miss Escalon, with Ace Krasko chosen Little Mr. Escalon and Isabella Parker-Wehner taking the Little Miss Escalon crown.
Near the historic caboose both Friday and Saturday, members of the Escalon Parks Foundation poured wines as a fundraiser for the local skate park, while the Escalon Lions Club – sponsor of the Park Fete celebration – offered its annual beer booth.
Fun and Games out of Manteca returned with some favorite rides and also brought several new offerings to the festival, along with games and carnival fare like cotton candy and ice cream.
On the vendor side of the city’s Main Street Park, local restaurants and non-profit church and community groups served up a variety of food, vendors offered jewelry, Scentsy products, Tupperware, toys and more. There were also some free games for kids, bubbles, hula hoops and other activities. Saturday afternoon saw dozens of youngsters hitting the sidewalk for the chalk art drawing contest, while the popular horseshoe pitching contest also drew some serious competitors.
Dennis Borba put on his International Bull Riding Show with riders from several countries, the competition putting a large crowd into the stands for the late afternoon event on Saturday.
Mayor Ed Alves, who is also a Lions Club member, was pleased with the turnout and the feel of the event, noting that it is a hometown celebration, and a chance for friends to reconnect. He also thanked Fairfield-based Jelly Belly for making a donation of 1,500 mini bags of jelly beans for the city council to toss to youngsters along the parade route, and 300 more for the runners in the Saturday morning 2-mile or 10K.
The Rangel family enjoyed the festival, from the food to the rides to stopping by one of the vendor booths and drawing trees, having their tree ‘read’ by the vendors, Alex Mitt and Lynnet Castaldi. Mitt is a stage hypnotist working out of the Bay Area and said reading trees is similar to handwriting analysis.
“That was interesting, believable,” Jesse Rangel said of what his tree drawing told about him.
Wife Stephanie agreed, saying “I thought it was pretty right on.”
The couple was there enjoying Park Fete with their children, 8-year-old Matthew and 6-year-old Emma.
Elsewhere, brothers Caleb, 5, and Cooper Collins, 2, were using the bubble wands in the play area, big brother Caleb saying that he was there for the first time and having fun with his family.
Eight-year-old Ramiro Ochoa was making quick work of knocking down the milk bottles in a fast pitch game.
“I have been here before, I like it with family and friends,” he said.
Escalon Animal Shelter representatives were there with animals up for adoption and Petco trainer Anna Gervaiso had a special offer on training programs. By midday, the group reported having one adoption, one sign up for training and more considering adopting pets from the shelter.
Jonathan Sanches and stepdaughter Aadison Patchin, 17 months, were enjoying a ring toss game in the children’s area, soaking up the sunshine on Saturday afternoon.
Young Tenaya Ahrens, 10, of Oakdale was happy she won a goldfish at a game booth and Faith Eckhardt, 4, was among the kids putting chalk to the sidewalk in the art contest.
“She draws constantly at home,” said her mom, Chandra.
Helping organize the vendor area this year was Lorina Cajias, who said she felt it went well but they will also have a follow up meeting.
“I’ve had so much good feedback about the whole day,” she said Saturday evening. “There are a lot of things we want to try and make better.”
Cajias said she can be reached via the Park Fete Facebook page or through her Lorina’s Edible Garden Facebook page.
Times intern Christopher Hunter contributed to this report.