Gilroy has its garlic, Ripon has its almonds, and Linden has its cherries.
All three communities have built festivals around their signature crops.
Manteca has as well. But even though the fields and orchards around Manteca produce crops with dollar values that outperform it in some cases 10-fold — almonds, milk, and grapes — Manteca pays homage to the pumpkin.
Last year 57,800 tons of pumpkins rolled out of the fields around Manteca valued at $21 million into stores and fruit stands around the state to account for 88 percent of California’s commercial sales for all of the orange — and sometimes white, green, and blue — gourds grown not to consume but for the purpose of having fun.
One of those pumpkin growers — Ron Dell’Osso — has even found a way to have a blast with mini-pumpkins by using bazooka-style launchers to hurl them toward targets at speeds approaching 95 mph during the annual month-long Dell’Osso Corn Maze in October.
That is what makes Manteca’s annual festival built around pumpkins so unique. It is celebrating food you can play with as opposed to eating.
During the 35th annual Sunrise Kiwanis Downtown Pumpkin Fair on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5 and 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days, there are plenty of ways to have fun with pumpkins — rolling them, spitting their seeds, having a contest eating them, and carving them — as well as celebrating them.
There is no charge to wander and browse the 170 plus vendors offering everything from crafts, knick-knacks, clothing accessories and more or enjoy endless free entertainment and children’s games.
The main stage entertainment under stately Sycamore trees at Wilson Park where the beer garden is also set up on Oct. 5 includes Jeremy Norris from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Jim Anderson from 1 to 2:30 p.m., Cali Celtic from 3 to 4:30 p.m., and Gunpowder and Lace from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The Oct. 6 lineup includes Dakota and Johnny from 11 a.m. until noon, Mario Flores from noon to 1:30 p.m., and the Mike Torres Band from 2 to 5 p.m.
Between the performers on the Main Stage there will be pumpkin pie eating contests.
The Community Stage has been shifted to the shade and grass of the Library Park.
The Oct. 5 lineup is Charlize Price at 10 a.m., Jadyn Snaer at 10:30 a.m., Taberna’s Tae Kwon Do Academy at 11 a.m., Manteca Youth Focus at 11:30 a.m., a doggie parade at noon, Jenn Morrow at 12:30 p.m., Cortez Full Circle Martial Arts at 1 p.m., Manteca Police K-9 at 1:30 p.m., Blackout at 2 p.m., Runnin’ on Empty at 2:30 p.m., RitechaA at 3 p.m., Estoric at 3:30 p.m., Insomnia at 4 p.m., Break the Pradox at 4:30 p.m., Nebula at 5 p.m., and How it Ends at 5:30 p.m.
On stage for the Oct. 6 is Dreama Diaz at 10 a.m., Ground Zero at 10:30 a.m., Brenna Lay at 11 a.m., Pumpkin Growing Contest winners at 11:30 a.m., doggie parade noon, TBA at 12:30 p.m., Heartshine Foundation at 1 p.m., Manteca Police K-9 at 1:30 p.m., Blackout at 2 p.m., Tailsman at 2:30 p.m., Turbulence at 3 p.m., and TBA acts at 3:30, 4 and 4:30 p.m.
There is a pumpkin carving contest on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. during the Pumpkin Fair After Dark event taking place in the beer garden at Wilson Park. Bring your carved or decorated pumpkins at that time to compete for $50 gift cards given to the most creative and most traditional entries.
This year’s free Pumpkin Fair After Dark features the movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” It takes place from 7 to 9 p.m.; the snack bar and beer garden will be open until 8 p.m. that evening.
The car show is Sunday, Oct. 6, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the 100 block of North Main Street. The entry fee is $25. Information and entry forms can also be found on the website.