Nine years ago, many people who lived in and around Oracle found themselves on the verge of unemployment. They knew the San Manuel mine, the place where they worked, soon would shut down.

Reacting to the frightening news, a few Oracle residents masterminded a festival that would create income for the area.

This year, it’s the unstable national economy that inspires fear.

The ninth-annual Fiesta de las Calabazas, or “gourd festival,” will pump money into the community as it has for years.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, and will showcase the cultural and artistic diversity in Oracle and surrounding communities by offering activities such as leather tooling, gem panning, seed planting and skull identification.

The region’s wealth of musical talent will present itself onstage, as well, with musicians including Kevin Pakulis, whose music has been described as a cross between Tom Petty and a young Johnny Cash, and the Way Out West, which will perform harmonic cowboy tales and “bordergrass” favorites.

The musical lineup also will include performances by folk guitarist Leila Lopez, the Blue Prairie Dogs and the barn-dancing Jumping Chollas.

It wouldn’t be a gourd festival without pumpkins, and at this year’s event, children will get a chance to decorate them. Also, festivalgoers will vote on gourds that students from Oracle, San Manuel and Mammoth schools already have decorated.

As always, guides will offer tours of the Mediterranean-style historic Kannally Ranch House in the park, and some visitors will take advantage of 20- to 30-minute nature walks.

For more information about the event, call (520) 896-2425 or visit www.calabazas.org.

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