On what was arguably the hottest weekend of the summer so far, Escalon threw its biggest party of the year.
Park Fete, sponsored by the Escalon Lions Club in cooperation with a number of local volunteer individuals and other community service groups and organizations, was hosted on Friday and Saturday, July 12 and 13.
Temperatures peaked near the triple digit mark both days, looking as though the midday heat on Saturday likely kept some potential attendees away. The attendance did pick up on Saturday evening, when a light cooling breeze was ushered in.
Friday featured the annual cornhole tournament, won by a team from Ceres, hosted by the Escalon Police Department, and the opening of the carnival area for kids along with entertainment on the stage.
Saturday was packed with activity from early morning until late night. Events started off with the Park Fete runs and the Masonic breakfast, continuing with the parade, lots of musical groups and other entertainment on the Main Street stage, a kids area, booths with merchandise, food and beverages, crafts, a horseshoe tournament, a dunking booth by the Kiwanis Club and more.
Escalon has had the Park Fete for decades, started initially as a fundraiser to beautify and maintain the city’s parks back in the early 1920s, according to officials. There was some discussion that this year was the 99th observance but that has also been disputed, as others put the first celebration in 1922 and there were a few years when the fete was interrupted by war, and not held. Officials want to get confirmation of the year so they can begin planning for the 100th anniversary celebration.
Mayor Robert Swift, a member of the Lions Club, also served as emcee for the downtown parade on Saturday morning, stopping each parade entry as it passed by the reviewing stand, chatting with the entrants as well as providing some biographical information.
Among those riding in the parade were the new royalty for 2019, Senior Mr. and Mrs. Escalon Doug and Diane Alcorn, Miss Escalon Mya Beary and her court, Little Mr. and Miss Escalon Duke Junqueiro and Karisma Cruz, as well as all the Little Miss and Mr. contestants. Pageants were held earlier in the week.
Local bands Remedy and Gotcha Covered provided music for dancing and listening pleasure on Saturday night, while the afternoon also featured a trio of young performers in the first Escalon’s Got Talent event. Swift, who also emceed that offering, said he hoped that more contestants will get involved next year but the three that did participate brought some great sounds and entertained the crowd.
A number of food vendors were on hand, including some local restaurants as well as churches, while merchandise ranged from the popular Scentsy items to crocheted crafts, information booths by the Escalon Chamber of Commerce and the Escalon Parks Foundation with their wine booth; the Lions Club with the beer sales, and multiple local businesses staffing booths with info and products.
And though weather may have kept the attendance down from past years, officials said they were generally happy with the event overall, noting that it continues to be a unique ‘homecoming’ for local residents to enjoy, as well as bringing in visitors from throughout the region for the weekend full of activities and fun.