For decades, the Nut Tree in Vacaville was a landmark roadside attraction. It began as a fruit stand in 1921 and segued into a major compound - a destination - offering hearty dining, fresh and dried fruits, a miniature railroad, occasional carnivals and great best-scarecrow competitions each October. Generations of Sacramentans made it a regular stop, pulling off Interstate 80 to enjoy the afternoon.
These days, a major mall surrounds what used to be the amusement park, which closed in 2009. That area now functions as an events center and is not associated with the Nut Tree Plaza, situated toward the front of the mall. The plaza tries to echo the glory days of the amusement park, with a train ride, carousel, hobby horses, game shed and photo wall.
It's the venue this Saturday for two special events for families. An Easter egg hunt will be from 10 to 11 a.m., followed by refreshments until 1 p.m. The Easter Bunny and Choo-Choo the Nut Tree mascot will be on hand to pose for photos with the young ones.
Also, in recognition of National Library Week, three children's authors/illustrators will meet 'n' greet young guests and sign books from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The authors are writer-illustrator Corie Lee Barloggi ("In Jack's Mind") and Denise Christian ("What Does the Doggie Say?", illustrated by Barloggi). Illustrator Nancy Rosso's art appears in "Beefy's First Lesson" by Juandell Lens Brunner. Children will be given free copies of "Beefy's First Lesson."
Borders will donate 30 percent of its book sales to the Solano County Library Foundation. The Nut Tree will donate half of its Plaza ticket sales for train and carousel rides (between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.). Proceeds will help support literacy programs in Solano County.
The Nut Tree shopping center is at 1681 E. Monte Vista Ave., Vacaville; (707) 447-6000, Ext. 301, and www.nuttreeusa.com.
The Solano County Library Foundation is at (707) 421-8075.