Pumpkins were rolling, tri tips were grilling, ice cream was melting … and Knights Ferry was packed with residents and visitors alike for the 53rd annual running of the Pumpkin Roll. All the activity saw the small community bustling on Sunday, Nov. 6.
Competition was hosted in a number of categories, with all trying to get their pumpkin to roll the closest to the line, a portion of Main Street shut down for the festivities. The Pumpkin Roll is always hosted the Sunday after Halloween.
There was the early morning first Sunday of the month breakfast as well, along with a crafts faire and some special games and fun activities hosted by the Orange Blossom 4-H. Stanislaus Consolidated Fire was offering up a tasty tri tip meal and the local ice cream parlor had plenty of business, customers coming in to enjoy some sweet treats.
On hand, preparing to roll in one of the upper age divisions, was Eric Ulrich, who won the event way back in its early days, as a 5-year-old in 1964.
“I’ve still got a picture from the Oakdale Leader,” he said of his trophy win in the inaugural event.
The lifetime local resident also won it a few years later, but hasn’t been back to the winner’s circle since.
It’s all in good fun, as the pumpkins make their way toward the chalked line, the crowd on both sides watching carefully to see how they roll, many cheering on their favorite rollers. Too much to the right, they head down toward the side of the road facing the river, too much to the left, they don’t have quite enough momentum to get to the line.
While there was plenty of excitement at the roll itself, the sunny skies and warm early fall weather provided a perfect backdrop for the other activities hosted in conjunction with the event and many visitors took time to stop on the bridge over the Stanislaus River to see if they could see some salmon making their way upstream.
“This is my first time,” said Shooter Reynolds, 11, of Modesto as he picked out a pumpkin and prepared for his age group. “I’m having fun.”
Ten-year-old Alejandra Quezada of Modesto, winner in the girls group, was also taking part for the first time.
“I was shocked,” she said as she admired her Pumpkin Roll trophy. “I just rolled.”
Her pumpkin stopped one foot, 2 inches from the line.
Other winners by age and gender category, provided by organizers, included:
0 to 5-year group: Girls, Canyon Dermond; Boys, Liam Allan.
6 to 12: Girls, Alejandra Quezada; Boys, Jaicob Mayer.
Teens: Girls, Kaeli Sweet; Boys, Carter Sturtevant.
Women: Hayley Graves; Men: Brad Lutz (On the line).
Seniors: Women, Grace Rusconi; Men, David Sousa.