Gourd festival volunteers needed
courtesy of Oracle State Park, Preparations begin early for the Fiesta de las Calabazas, or “gourd festival,” in Oracle, pictured here, which attracts about 1,000 visitors each year.

Nine years ago, the community of Oracle was suffering.

The San Manuel mine up the road was about to close, and many residents stood to lose their jobs.

Reacting to bleak news, a few Oracle residents decided to hold a festival that would showcase local talent and create income for the area.

The result, Fiesta de las Calabazas, or “gourd festival,” still takes place each October. About 1,000 visitors show up for the rural affair, complete with gourd decorating, folk music and artisan booths.

Preparation begins three months in advance with Dessert in the Desert, an event designed to encourage people to sign up as festival volunteers and give donations in support of October’s event.

This year’s Dessert in the Desert event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 18, at Oracle State Park, 3820 Wildlife Drive, and will feature live music and a sampling of desserts.

Prospective volunteers and people who would like to support the festival are invited to attend. The event will take place at the park’s historic Kannally Ranch House, a Mediterranean-style home built in 1929 by a family of ranchers. The Kannally Ranch House sits on property overlooking the San Pedro River Valley.

Admission to the Dessert in the Desert event is free. For more information, call (520) 896-2425.

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