NEWMAN - In Newman, Labor Day weekend is all about the fun.
That tradition, one which dates back nearly five decades, continues this weekend when Newman plays host to the 49th annual Fall Festival.
Five days of festivities are in store, starting with tonight’s Little Mr. and Miss Newman Contest and Miss Newman Pageant and continuing through a weekend packed with activities before a softball tournament brings the celebration to a close on Monday.
The festival is a long-standing tradition on the West Side, an action-packed weekend that draws several thousand visitors to the community.
While the schedule of events changes from year to year, said General Chairman Julie Barcelos, the common thread of the Fall Festival is simply bringing families and community members together to share in a tradition that spans generations.
The Fall Festival, she said, is part reunion, part homecoming for many.
“I think it is cool that a town this size can put together an event that spans five days and brings the community together. People come home to attend the Fall Festival,” Barcelos reflected. “They grew up attending the Fall Festival, and they come back and attend it with their own kids.”
The Fall Festival this year honored the Newman Police Department as its grand marshal in recognition of its long-standing support for the celebration and its service to the community as a whole.
A “Thin Blue Line” theme is woven into a number of Fall Festival events and materials, and a silent auction added to the Friday night “Evening Under the Stars” event in the downtown plaza is dedicated to raising funds for a law enforcement monument in Pioneer Park.
“There are some amazing things that people from all over have donated,” said Barcelos. “We have more than 30 items for the silent auction. We hope that people come out and show their appreciation for the police department.”
While the grand marshal honor is a tribute to the department as a whole, she noted, a special moment of tribute will be held during the Sunday morning parade to honor fallen Cpl. Ronil Singh.
Variety of activities, events
The Fall Festival, Barcelos said, offers entertainment and activities for all ages and all interests.
The more actively inclined can participate in volleyball and softball tournaments, or go for an early-morning run Saturday when the “K-9 Fun Run” is held.
The “Evening Under the Stars” offers a social setting in which guests can enjoy wine, micro-brews and hearty appetizers as they visit and peruse auction items Friday evening in the downtown plaza.
Those seeking the thrill of carnival rides and challenge of midway games will find plenty to occupy themselves at the festival.
Others might simply soak in the atmosphere.....perhaps sampling the wide variety of festival food and drink being served up by vendors while they stroll through craft booths or enjoy entertainment on the gazebo stage.
A number of popular events from years past have returned to the schedule, Barcelos noted, including a salsa/guacamole contest, a lip-sync challenge and a photography contest.
A Kids Zone is a new attraction to this year’s Fall Festival.
Following are the highlights of the 2019 Fall Festival.
• A new Miss Newman will be crowned tonight (Thursday) at the West Side Theatre. The Little Mr. and Miss Newman Contest starts the evening at 6 p.m., with the Miss Newman Pageant to follow at about 7:30. The events are separately ticketed and seating is limited. Tickets are $3 for the Little Mr./Miss Contest and $5 for the Miss Newman Contest.
• The “Evening Under the Stars” event is held Friday at 7 p.m. in the plaza. Tickets are $40 per person and available at Mattos Newspapers or from committee members.
• The K-9 Fun Run starts at 7 a.m. sharp Saturday near Pioneer Park. Race-day registration opens at 6 a.m.
• The Fall Festival parade starts a full day of Sunday activities when it rolls through downtown Newman starting at 11 a.m.
• Lip-sync performers will showcase their talent Sunday evening. The lip-sync battle starts at 8 p.m. Sunday.
A host of volunteers make the Fall Festival possible for the community as a whole to enjoy. The Fall Festival Committee includes Barcelos, Ed Faria and Teri Ramos, co-chairs; Christine Eddington, treasurer; Dionne Blythe, secretary; and members Kristi Short, Micah Santos, Kiyo Yamamoto, Don Gomes, Marc Chittim, Diana Rosa, Alicia Mendoza, Melanie Braun, Amanda Guzman, Caroline Nelson, Crickett Brinkman, Mike Brinkman, Harley Brinkman, Sage Brinkman, and members of the Tri-County Blue Line Alliance and Gustine Traveling Library.