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ENTERTAINMENT : Taming the Wild West : Calabasas Days' Pumpkin Festival will strive to catch the spirit of frontier days with friendliness and creativity.

October 23, 1992|JAMES E. FOWLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The first Calabasas Days' Pumpkin Festival, this weekend at Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains National Rec reation Area, will celebrate the spirit of the Old West, but not the violence commonly associated with that era.

Calabasas Days' Chairman Alan Ungar said the time has come to move away from the glorification of violence. The theme for the festival--"The Old West With a New Spirit, a Time for Family Fun"--reflects the event's nonviolent tone.

"We're emphasizing neighborliness, friendliness and creativity," Ungar said. "If you're going to have a world that thinks peace, you have to get away from emphasizing violence. There'll be excitement at the festival, but no violence."

He hopes some of that excitement will be generated by a Western stunt show featuring Rick and Tag Groat. The show has no guns and no shooting and instead features saddle stunts and audience participation.

The festival will also have what organizers call "the world's largest and least fierce community tug of peace tournament."

The festival is being sponsored by the city of Calabasas and its Chamber of Commerce to raise funds for 30 local nonprofit organizations, including the Pacific Boys Lodge, the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts, Caring for Children With AIDS and the Motion Picture and Television Fund.

The event will also feature a Celebrity Corral, where people can meet and have their pictures taken with stars like Chuck ("Rifleman") Connors, baseball player Steve Sax, actor Jack Scalia, Dodgers broadcaster Ross Porter and Walter Koenig, who played Chekov in the original "Star Trek" television and movie series. The stars of the TV show "The American Gladiators" are also scheduled to pose for photos, sign autographs and accept all reasonable athletic challenges to raise money.

The word Calabasas is derived from the Spanish word for "pumpkins." True to its name, the festival will put 30 tons of pumpkins, some weighing more than 200 pounds, on display for sale. Several types of music will be featured, including bluegrass, country and barbershop quartet. Dancers, clowns and American Indian storytellers will also perform.

Local performers, who will appear on the Community Stage, include the Step in Time School of Dance, the Calabasas High School Drama Club, A. E. Wright Middle School Drama Club and the Meadow Oaks School choir. Rob Paulsen, the voice of Rafael the Ninja Turtle, will serve as master of ceremonies.

On the main stage, the pumpkinseed-spitting, pumpkin-pie-eating and weird-sound contests will be held. Crafts and food booths are also planned.

The organizers hope this event will be as popular as its predecessor, the Calabasas Pumpkin Festival, which ran from 1970 through the early 1980s.

That event was so popular in its first five years that the sixth festival, in 1975, relocated to Chatsworth because of the lack of room at its original site on Old Calabasas Road. That year, the event drew as many as 10,000 people per day.

Ungar said the new festival, expected to draw about 15,000 for Saturday and Sunday combined, is different.

"It's a completely new festival," Ungar said. "It's really more of a family-oriented type of day now."

Where and When

Event: Calabasas Days' Pumpkin Festival

Location: Paramount Ranch, Agoura. Take the Ventura Freeway to the Kanan Road exit. Go south on Kanan Road, turn left at sign for Cornell Road and keep to the right. The distance to Paramount Ranch is about 2 1/2 miles.

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Price: $5, $2.50 children 5 to 12, free for children 4 and under. Free parking.

Call: (818) 880-3760.

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