June 01--PATTERSON -- Like many at the Patterson Apricot Fiesta, Fran Filice goes every year and has for decades. And like so many regulars, she couldn't tell you much about the fiesta happenings during any of them. She's too busy volunteering.
"You know, I worked in the background. You'd have to ask somebody on the other side," Filice said Saturday, as she manned the fiesta memorabilia section of the Patterson Museum.
On the other side, that is, of the booth, of the display, of the barbecue. Volunteers are the backbone of the annual festival that will draw thousands to downtown Patterson again today, said Caroline Bogdanich, working at the SunBlest Orchards booth.
"It's a hometown event. People come back every year. Even if they've moved away, they come back for the parade and the food," she said, between sales of apricot habaÑero ketchup, apricot pies, apricot roll-ups, apricot barbecue sauces and Hot Cot pepper sauce. The fiesta booth isn't the most profitable for her wares, she said, but the hometown visibility can't be beat.
"It's just promotion. It's fun," Bogdanich said. "Everyone's involved in some way ? they have a child in the pageant, they're making a float for the parade, something."
At the apricot ice cream booth, organizer Marie Sanchez said lots of folks look forward every year to the sweet, shivery specialty that serves as the year's biggest fundraiser for local Boy Scouts.
Parents pitched in to make 106 gallons this year, she said, adding the local Dairy Council donated the cream, Rainbow Farms donated 90 dozen eggs and Save Mart Supermarkets let the troop use its freezer to keep finished ice cream frozen until the fiesta.
"It's the whole town's ice cream," Sanchez said with a smile.
Inside the booth, Troop 81 Scouts Tony Dixon, 14, and Trevor Pedron, 13, dug out icy scoops and loaded them on the all-too-crushable cones. Pedron's dad, Kelly, said the boys all take shifts working the fiesta.
On the other side of the booth window, Beatrice Melo stood among a steady stream of customers lined up for cones and take-home containers of the apricot delicacy. Melo said she gets the ice cream every year, and the apricot barbecue sauce, and the apricot shortcake she just finished.
"It's all about the apricots," she said.
The booth draws Aleen Hinds every year. "I come here just for the ice cream," Hinds said. After a beat, she added, "and the dressings and the barbecue sauce."
Then there are the apricot cannolis and apricot strudel from Cobblestone Bakery. Stewart & Jasper Orchards has apricot wine, apricot pepper almonds and apricot ginger teriyaki glaze among its apricot-themed offerings.
"Since we're here, we figured we better do everything we can with apricots, be as creative as possible," said Jason Jasper, vice president and Saturday's booth tender.
Hungry yet? Members of the Patterson Lions Club can help there, serving chicken dinners as they have for 44 years, said Al Scheuber, who's been helping for most of them. The event is one of the top fundraisers for the organization, which uses the money to help out schools, Scouts and other community needs.
"We do a lot of scholarships," said Andy Barsamian. The group tried to give larger grants to just a few applicants, he said, "but when you know 'em all, what do you do?"
Bee reporter Nan Austin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2339. Follow her on Twitter @NanAustin.
(c)2014 The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.)
Visit The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.) at www.modbee.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services