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Sweet Success Crowds Flock To Park Fete
From crowning new royalty to having the bands play on late into the night, Park Fete 2008 offered something for everyone to enjoy.

And, based on the huge turnout over the weekend, it appears that those that came went away happy.

"The weather started to cooperate," noted organizer Amanda Swift, working with Lions Club members Monty Vanderbeek and Ed Alves in coordinating the event. "The parade was just outstanding, we had no serious problems throughout the week."

Pre-Fete activities included recognition of Senior Mr. and Mrs. Escalon, Dick and Karyn Dawson, in a Tuesday afternoon luncheon and the crowning of Miss Escalon 2008, Mikala Hatfield, at a Wednesday evening pageant. Thursday evening brought the Little Mr. and Miss Escalon pageant, with Izaac Sipma named Little Mr. Escalon and Danielle Gallegos taking the crown as Little Miss Escalon.

Those three events were played out in the heat of the week, with the temperature hitting 106 on Tuesday, 107 on Wednesday and 103 on Thursday. By the time of the Thursday night pageant on the Main Street stage, however, there was a bit of a cooling breeze and the temperatures moderated to the low and mid 90s for the weekend, backing off from the triple digit heat.

"We did have a couple of vendors back out because of the weather and the concerns abut smoke," Swift said. "But those that were there, we heard good things."

Escalon Premier Brands was a primary sponsor of the event, presented by the Lions Club, with additional sponsorship from Hashem Naraghi, Frank N. Rocha Dairy and Bavaro Farms, Inc.

Vendors were in town setting up shop early Friday, with the 86th Park Fete officially opening at 4 p.m. with the food and merchandise booths ready for business and the carnival rides and games for kids off and running. Friday night's music was provided by some returning favorites, Taillights and Remedy.

Saturday's parade stepped off at 10:30 a.m., following the Park Fete Run and omelet breakfast served up by the Masonic Lodge. The roughly half-hour long parade featured Dave Ennis as Grand Marshal, introduced the new Park Fete royals and had plenty of community groups, musical ensembles, dancing horses, local officials, Cub Scouts, sports groups, the popular AAHMES Shrine mini lizzies, churches and a new entry, the Silent Sentinels of Karl Ross Post 16 in Stockton, presenting flags honoring deceased veterans from all this country's conflicts, from World War I to Iraq.

Teams also joined in a spirited horseshoe tournament following the parade.

Escalon resident Jennifer Barker had children Ryan, 2 ½ and Haley, 18 months, in a double stroller, taking in the many booths.

"I enjoy the parade, it's fun for the kids, the carnival, seeing old friends," she said of spending the day in town.

Alan Barton of Fresno, a former resident, was back visiting for the day and was chowing down on a huge linguica, enjoying the food and friendship.

At the carnival area, Craig Berchtold watched as son Trenton, 7, enjoyed the various rides, including an inflatable slide.

"I like seeing everybody you went to high school with, those that you haven't seen in a couple of years," he noted.

A firefighter, Berchtold was taking a break from fighting California wildfires to have a little bit of time with his family at the city celebration before heading back to the fire lines.

Scott McDowell was also at the fete with his kids, taking it all in.