Chalk it up to a desire to return to normalcy, good weather and a desire to be around others following the pandemic and lockdowns, for thousands to flock to downtown Ceres for the annual Ceres Street Faire.
The event was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic but the good attendance indicated that the crowds were more concerned about having a good time than about COVID.
“Overall we’re happy – it was pretty successful,” said Street Faire Chairman Ken Lane.
The downtown Ceres event, sponsored by the Ceres Chamber of Commerce, the Ceres Lions Club and the city of Ceres, featured live local entertainment, arts and crafts booths, commercial and food vendors and a Saturday car show that attracted over 150 vehicles.
Despite the event competing with events in other towns, attendance was brisk all day on Saturday. Much interest was paid to the Saturday car show. Event organizer Lisa Mantarro Moore was pleased when over 150 vehicles were entered to be showcased in the car show, filling up the space on Fourth Street and spilling over into the Ceres Community Center.
“Following the pandemic, we worked hard to publicize and rebrand this event,” said Moore. “We have cars spilling over into the parking lot. I think that’s because we put a lot of effort into it early to get people to participate.”
Farther down on Fourth Street vendors lined both sides of the street.
“I personally talked to at least 90 percent of the vendors and they were just ecstatic,” said Ken Lane, chairman of the Ceres Street Faire. “They did very well.”
Some of the same vendors didn’t sell nearly as well at the Hughson Fruit & Nut Festival the prior weekend, said Lane.
“They said this thing doesn’t even compare, how professionally it was done and how it made them feel, the atmosphere, everything was just superior and they sold so much more at ours. I think certainly Hughson does a good job with theirs but it was good to hear that the vendors were very happy.”
Lane credited the hard work of Kim Chapman and Lisa Mantarro Moore to recruit vendors.
“We did everything we could possibly do to fill it. Three weeks ago we were down, I’d say, 30 percent on vendors and by the time we had our meeting the day before the Street Faire we were full.”
Food booths operated by non-profit organizations were busy both days. People were also standing in long lines for the tri-tip sandwiches sold by the Ceres Lions Club.
The Ceres Lions Club sold out of 1,200 pounds of beef tri-tip for sandwiches by about 3:20 p.m.
The club barbecued 800 pounds for Saturday which is always the busiest day. The remaining 400 pounds was barbecued and sold for Sunday customers.
Attendance was down on Sunday, probably because of the colder temperatures, wind and clouds blocked the sun all day, and Sunday being Mother’s Day. Sunday offered an RV show sponsored by Don’s RV and a motorcycle show sponsored by Mitchell Harley-Davidson.
“The crowds were definitely lighter,” said Lane, “but not nearly as light as I thought they would be with the weather and the wind. I would say compared to Saturday there was probably 30-35 percent less people on Sunday but they still came out.”
The performance of local favorite Greg Scudder at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday brought out a large crowd at the downtown stage in front of Alfonso’s Mexican Restaurant. Scudder has been sidelined from singing for three years because of an injury.
“It was amazing to see so many thousands of people back in our city for something that’s so important to the community and all of the organizations rely on those funds and that revenue to run their programs and take kids on cool trips and do all the cool things they do with that revenue,” said Vice Mayor Bret Silveira, who spent hours grilling onions and linguica for sandwiches sold at the Ceres High School Boosters Club booth. “It was just amazing to see the city come together after a hiatus.”
City Manager Alex Terrazas reported that he had a good time with his wife and dog on his first time at the Faire.
“It was a great event,” said Terrazas, who gave kudos to Moore and the other committee members.
This year’s Street Faire was minus the annual CUSD Foundation Raffle fundraiser to support activities at Ceres schools and provide supplemental instructional support for Ceres teachers. Julie Martin, Ceres Unified School District’s liaison to the CUSD Foundation, said leaders chose to discontinue the raffle as a fundraiser.
“We found that during the COVID restrictions we were able to fundraise through other efforts that provided close to the same level of return as the raffle,” said Martin.
The Street Faire Committee surprised two individuals with plaques. Miguel Duran was presented a plaque for having his Ceres Karate business perform at the Street Faire for 30 years. John Silveira was also presented a plaque for volunteering over 30 years to run the sound board and speaker system for the entertainment acts.
The Street Faire presented 11 awards to winners of the car show on Saturday afternoon. Sam Climer’s 1937 Ford won “Best of Show Car” while Dan Wengert’s touring pickup won “Best of Show Truck.” Rick Gastelum’s 1968 Chevy Caprice won “Most Unique.” Bruce Dodge’s 1933 Ford Coupe took the “Lions Club Award.” Rocky Bentley’s 1939 coupe won the “Elvis Award.” The 1967 Camaro owned by Laura Estrella took the “Ceres Chamber of Commerce Award.” Jack Fritz’ 1934 Tudor claimed the “Street Faire Choice” win while Charlie Fernandes’ entry of a 1956 Continental Mark II won “Competitors Choice Award.” The “People’s Choice Award” went to the 1962 Chevy Impala owned by Daniel Haro. Robert Baumgardner took home the “Sponsor’s Choice Award” as he drove off his 1966 Chevy C10 truck. The 1962 Chevy Impala owned by Mike Duran clinched the “Grand Champion Award.”