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Tourist Traffic Keeps Stands Hopping
Gas prices aside, tourist travel has been pretty brisk through the Escalon area this summer, and local produce stand operators have been happy with the business they have seen.

Two of the most prominent stands in the area, The Barn at the west end of Escalon, headed toward Manteca on Highway 120 and Costa Produce, east of the city on 120 toward Oakdale, report strong sales and plenty of summer visitors.

Tom and Denise Crom took over The Barn in 2007 and are completing their first summer tourist season.

Crom said it was a good first year, though gas prices and problems with smoke due to multiple wildfires did keep visitors down from what he had anticipated. Much of the traffic, he said, was international visitors.

"My wife puts it at 90 percent ... I don't know I'd go that high," Crom said of overseas travelers coming through the barn.

Visitors, no matter where they came from, were pleased with the variety of fresh produce, though.

"People from France were saying they don't get peaches or nectarines anywhere near the size of ours," Crom said. "We also have heirloom melons, the old style melons, from the seeds the people were using 100 years ago or even longer."

Along with the owners, the Barn added three part-time summer helpers and brought in some family members to help out.

"We had a lot of European travelers, more than I expected," summer employee Claudette Picano said of those stopping by for some fresh produce. "They were great people, everyone was always happy."

The barn also features antiques and collectibles in addition to the produce. Specialty snacks, the majority produced in the Central Valley, are offered as well and Crom said the heirloom tomatoes have been popular.

"I thoroughly enjoyed it, meeting the people," Crom said of the summer season.

There is still plenty of produce in season, with the Croms also looking ahead to offering a new line of fall décor, pumpkins for Halloween and planning to offer a Christmas tree lot at the site this year as well.