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West Valley Focus

CALABASAS : Producer Busy Carving Out Pumpkin Fest

October 15, 1994|FRANK MANNING

Inside the tiny offices that house Pumpkin Central, it's beginning to feel like a political campaign headquarters during the final, harried, headlong rush toward Election Day.

As the third annual Calabasas Days Pumpkin Festival draws near, the phones seldom stop ringing.

In one office, Ray Upton, the event's producer, is talking on the phone, earphones on his head and a laptop computer on the table in front of him.

The event is scheduled for Oct. 22 and 23 at Paramount Ranch, but there are still permits to be obtained, celebrities to be booked and hundreds of other details that need attention.

"We call ourselves traffic control," said Upton, taking off his earphones. "Part of organized traffic control is to keep it calm, keep it level, keep it going in a nice way."

Not an easy task.

"I don't sleep at night now," said Jeff Blum, president of the Calabasas Chamber of Commerce, which is helping organize the event.

"It's at that point now where it's like when they launch the space shuttle, checking and double-checking every aspect of the operation, to make sure it goes off without a hitch."

Upton's company, Wipeout Productions, is paid to organize the event, but most of the work is done by volunteers.

"There are at least 35 volunteer coordinators, handling everything from publicity to food and beverages, to ticket sales, to a person in charge of getting our pumpkins," said Margery Gould, volunteer head of publicity for the festival.

"There is even a volunteer coordinator who helps other volunteer coordinators find staff."

Last year there were at least 500 volunteers involved in the event, she said.

Another volunteer, Tony Roberts, owner of an after-school children's camp, looks for ways to keep smaller children entertained during the event.

Upton, meanwhile, works on ways to keep the volunteers entertained and motivated.

"When we have a meeting here (at Pumpkin Central), everybody has to wear a straw hat, or they cannot be in the meeting," he said.

"It's just something to have some fun with."

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