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2014 Award Winners

Every year the Sonoma County Fair and the Western Fair Association are proud to recognize those individuals within our community that make an impact. The recipients have shown support to the Fair and local communities through their knowledge, phlianthropy and accomplishments.

The Western Fair Association's Blue Ribbon Award

The Western Fair Association's Blue Ribbon Award recognizes those individuals or groups who have provided outstanding support to the Fair industry. Honorees are often volunteers, sponsors or educators.

Sheila Quince

Sheila Quince - Sonoma County Fair Award Winner

Sheila began working in the Sonoma County Fair’s entry department in 1982 as assistant to Saralee McClelland Kunde. She took over as exhibits coordinator in 1987 and over the next three decades played a major role in shaping Fair exhibits, the flower show, junior livestock auctions and the Harvest Fair. One of Sheila’s proudest moments came in 2007 when the Fair’s junior livestock auctions grossed more than $1 million for the first time.

“My time with the Fair has been incredibly rewarding, says Quince. “I’ve watched so many young people grow up in 4-H and FFA and become great, confident young adults. Knowing that I too was once in their shoes, showing animals and selling at the Sonoma County Fair has always brought me fond memories from my youth. I know from first-hand experience how important this experience is to their lives and how it shapes their future. It’s been my pleasure to be a part of that and I am honored to count myself among the many people being recognized for their efforts,” Quince adds. Sheila retired from her position with the Fair in 2012, but she continues to play an instrumental role with the Harvest Fair, coordinating the professional food and wine competitions and managing the wine tasting. The Sonoma County Fair Board is honored to recognize Sheila Quince for his long-time dedication and support of the Sonoma County Fair with a Western Fair Association Blue Ribbon Award.

Bob Giannecchini and Wine Country Ranch Equipment

Bob Giannecchini and Wine Country Ranch Equipment - Sonoma County Fair Award Winner

Raised the son of a dairyman, Bob’s been caring for animals and the land his whole life. In 1988, he saw a need for a locally-based farm supply company and decided to open his first store. Now located off Stony Point Road in Cotati, Wine Country Ranch Equipment serves Sonoma County’s agricultural community from backyard farmers to large ranchers and managers of world-class vineyards.

For well over 10 years, Bob has donated corrals and pens from Wine Country Ranch Equipment for Sweet Lil’s Farmery, an ag education exhibit for all ages to enjoy. He and his life-partner, Lynda Jocobsen do the set up and tear down, plus bring in their animals for petting—from mini horses and donkeys to pot-bellied pigs and pygmy goats.“Bob always says his big reward is the smiles on the kids’ faces,” says Tawny Tesconi, Fair Manager. “His generous contributions of time, labor and supplies have benefited the Fair immensely and brought the thrill of interacting with farm animals to thousands of fairgoers.” The Sonoma County Fair Board is honored to recognize Bob Giannecchini for his long-time dedication and support of the Sonoma County Fair with a Western Fair Association Blue Ribbon Award.

Shari DeGraffenreid

Shari DeGraffenreid - Sonoma County Fair Award Winner

Shari met her husband Dean DeGraffenreid while the two were youngsters attending elementary school in the Penngrove/Cotati area. After marrying, the couple purchased a small ranch with an orchard. Shari canned and jarred everything she could—as she still does today—and the couple’s children, Gino and Angie, joined 4-H and the FFA just as their father had. When it came time for Gino to sell his first pig at the Fair’s junior livestock auction, Shari began a one woman campaign—soliciting a buyer for Gino’s pig. Her dedication encouraged fundraising for dozens of other animals raised by Sonoma County’s youngest farmers and proved the catalyst for the auctions’ growing success.

During the 1990s and into the new millennium, Shari dedicated herself to soliciting and raising support for the Fair’s Junior Livestock Auction and Hall of Flowers Preview Party. She served on the Sonoma County Fair Board for 16 years, retiring in 2009. The livestock auction and the flower show were her two biggest passions, but she equally tackled budgeting and other aspects of Fair operation to ensure success. In true form, Shari celebrated her retirement from the Board by asking 300 of her closest friends to join her at the Hall of Flowers Preview Party. The Sonoma County Fair Board is honored to recognize Shari DeGraffenreid with the Western Fair Association Blue Ribbon Award for her long-time dedication and support of the Sonoma County Fair.

Guidebook Dedication

Bill King

Tim Tesconi

The Sonoma County Fair Board and Staff have selected retired Petaluma teacher Bill King for the honor of this year’s Exhibitor Guidebook Dedication. Throughout his career, King’s collaborative efforts in the community and his passion and dedication for teaching inspired and guided young farmers to successful careers in the agriculture industry. He is honored for his quest to develop true agriculturalists of Sonoma County, for his commitment to enhancing and promoting the county’s Ag community, and for his outstanding support of the Sonoma County Fair and the Fair’s exhibits..

A native of Petaluma, Bill learned farming responsibilities at an early age on his family’s farm, raising and showing beef cattle and chickens at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma and the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa. He was actively involved in his FFA chapter and held numerous leadership positions.

Bill graduated from Petaluma High in 1957, and the next year earned the coveted American Farmer Degree. He went on to UC Davis where he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Range Management. It was 1966 when Bill embarked on his journey to teach Ag Shop and Ag Science at his alma mater. He was a special teacher who integrated real life farming situations into his curriculum and he would ultimately develop Petaluma High’s state of the art agriculture program.

“Bill’s work with the local community and businesses helped insure that his students always had up-todate information and access to the latest ranching and farming ideas and equipment,” says Fair Manager Tawny Tesconi. “Bill’s teaching philosophy and style earned him the respect of his students and his peers. He helped connect his students with part-time and afterschool work in the industry to further support their dreams and many of Bill’s students have gone on to successful careers in Sonoma County.” The Sonoma County Fair Board and Staff are proud to dedicate this year’s Guidebook to Bill King— outstanding teacher, farmer and champion for the future of Sonoma County’s agricultural industry.

Hall of Flowers Dedication

Richard and Saralee Kunde

Joan Perry Ryan

A Fair-time romance that blossomed into an extraordinary partnership, forever changing the face of Sonoma County. This, in short, describes the two amazing people named for this year’s top distinction at the Sonoma County Fair. The Sonoma County Fair Board and Staff are honored to dedicate the 2014 Hall of Flowers to Richard and Saralee Kunde.

Widely and lovingly dubbed the “first couple of Sonoma County agriculture,” Richard and Saralee’s valuable contributions to the Fair and their far-reaching impact to shape and promote Sonoma County’s agricultural industry and life-style are immeasurable.

The legacy of “Richard and Saralee” began with the purchase of a 265 acre ranch off Slusser Road near the county airport. The property featured mostly poison oak and blackberry brambles before the couple created their vineyard estate and private park. Over the next two decades, Richard and Saralee worked tirelessly to focus world attention on the incredible food and wines being produced in Sonoma County. “Richard’s Grove” and “Saralee’s Vineyard” became renowned, both for the grapes they produced and the charity events they hosted. Together, they raised millions of dollars for agricultural interests and programs benefiting Sonoma County.

“Earlier this year, when Saralee passed on, we in the Sonoma County Ag community lost one of our best friends, brightest lights, and an incredible doer of good deeds,” says Tawny Tesconi, Fair Manager. “We miss Saralee more than we can say, and to Richard, we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your foresight, leadership and immense generosity. There are simply not enough words to encapsulate all that Richard and Saralee Kunde have done for our community or the impact they have had.”

The Sonoma County Fair Board and Staff are pleased to dedicate this year’s Hall of Flowers to two of the Fair’s most committed supporters and outstanding champions of Sonoma County agriculture.

Paul Mononi

Dr. Fred Groverman receiving award

The Sonoma County Fair Board and members of the agricultural community across the county are offering a heart-felt and very special ‘hats off’ this year to longtime Farmer’s Day Chairman, Paul Mononi. The Fair has selected Mononi for a Special Presentation in honor of his 20-plus years at the helm of Farmer’s Day—planning, organizing and overseeing the details for the popular event that celebrates the joys of farming.

A third-generation Sonoma County farmer himself, Paul became sole supporter of his family at a young age following his father’s early passing. He recalls his uncle first taking him to Farmer’s Day at the Fair in the late 1960s and having a ‘hay day’ of a time. Years later, when he was asked to serve as Chairman of the event, Paul jumped at the chance and spent the next two decades introducing the people of Sonoma County to the experience and lifestyle of farming. He especially took great joy in showing children how farm kids like to have fun.

“A successful Farmer’s Day takes so many people to pull off, it’s only possible because the whole group works together” Mononi adds, “I really don’t deserve this honor, but it sure is flattering and I thank you!” Paul Mononi retired this year from the Farmer’s Day Committee. He continues to operate his Santa Rosa-based Mononi Ranches producing dairy silage and grapes, and is an important contributor to Sonoma County’s agricultural community and heritage.

The Sonoma County Fair Board and staff are honored to award Paul Mononi with a Special Presentation for his longtime dedication and tireless support of Farmer’s Day at the Fair.

Outstanding North Bay Rancher

David Evans

Tim Tesconi

The Sonoma County Fair Board and members of the local ranching industry have selected David Evans, owner of Marin Sun Farms of Point Reyes as this year’s Outstanding North Bay Rancher and the recipient of the J.W. Jamison Perpetual Trophy. Evans is honored for his foresight and leadership within the ranching industry and for his outstanding contributions to enrich Sonoma County agriculture. He is recognized as a leader at the forefront of the sustainable food model’s ‘field to fork’ movement and a champion of environmental stability for the North Bay region.

A fourth generation rancher, Evans has taken his family’s legacy of farming to a new level. Based in the rolling grasslands of Point Reyes National Seashore, the Evans (Grossi) family started in the dairy business and diversified into a beef operation in the 1970s. After graduating from Cal Poly with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business with a concentration in Farm and Ranch Management, the young David Evans returned home with a mindset to do things differently. His goal was to create a more sustainable food model that conserved landscapes and restored the vitality of the region he treasured.

In 1998 David founded Marin Sun Farms, an extension of the family farm committed to producing local, pasture based food with the aspiration of building a sustainable food model. He raises and purchases 100% Grass Fed, Pasture Raised, and Food Shed Sourced: beef, lamb, goat, pork, and poultry within a production protocol that requires all animals be free of antibiotics and hormones, treated humanely, amongst other requirements. With David’s hands-on leadership, Marin Sun Farms has brought to the marketplace and communicated to countless people, the value of high quality meat production and its vital connection to environmental stability.

Evans, who showed beef cattle and market steers at the Sonoma County Fair, says he was instilled as a very young child with a deep love for the land and the beautiful landscapes of Marin and Sonoma counties. “The whole experience at the Fair was a special time for me to learn and grow within the agricultural community in the North Bay,” he says.

The Sonoma County Fair Board and Staff are proud to present this year’s award for Outstanding North Bay Rancher to David Evans of Marin Sun Farms. Evans will receive the J.W. Jamison Perpetual Trophy on Farmer’s Day at the Fair, Sunday, July 27 in Chris Beck Arena.

Outstanding Dairy of the Year

George Grossi

Tim Tesconi

Selected for ranch appearance, herd management and leadership in the dairy industry and community, Novato’s George Grossi & Son Dairy has been named the 2014 Dairy of the Year for the North Bay region. The trophy in loving memory of Edward J. Maddalena will be presented during Farmer’s Day at the Sonoma County Fair, Sunday, July 27 in Chris Beck Arena.

In the midst of industry change, the Grossi work ethic has served the family well—hard work, efficiency and innovation have kept the farm going. That innovation has involved diversifying into beef cattle and educating people about the life and business of dairy farming. “We believe in promoting consumer understanding about farming and the humane treatment of farm animals,” says Grossi. The Grossi family has built a name on responsible farming and conscientious community involvement.

The Grossi’s un-wavering commitment to the success of the local dairy industry has earned the family respect within the agricultural community and their peers. Dominic and his father, George Grossi, are strong advocates for local farmers, each having served as president of the Marin County Farm Bureau and the North Bay Dairy Herd Improvement Association. Father and son exhibited their registered cattle at the Sonoma County Fair for many years.

The Sonoma County Fair Board and Staff are pleased to present George Grossi & Son Dairy with the Edward J. Maddalena Memorial Trophy as the North Bay’s Outstanding Dairy of the Year for 2014.

Award of Excellence in the Horse Industry

Dick and Sybil Hardy

Tim Tesconi

A love of horses, family and friends led Dick and Sybil Hardy to each other and to a lifetime of influential work and service within the Sonoma County horse community. Citing their 50 years of dedication, the Sonoma County Fair is are pleased to present Sebastopol’s Dick and Sybil Hardy with the Award of Excellence in the Horse Industry. The award and trophy, designed by Keith Christie and donated by the Sonoma County Trail Blazers, will be presented on Farmer’s Day, Sunday, July 27 in Chris Beck Arena.

In the early years of their marriage, Sybil became the catalyst for the creation of the couple’s training program. DH Stables in Sebastopol, also known as Dick and Sybil Hardy Stables, specialized in performance quarter horses and produced champion and award-winning horses and students. And, while their love for horses took Dick and Sybil across the country, their true life-legacy came from guiding and developing Sonoma County’s young equestrians.

“They had one of the most influential riding programs of their time, producing futurity winners, allaround champions and national year-end high point honor roll horses. And, their students earned local, national and world championship titles under their guidance,” says the couple’s daughter Melissa Zanetti. “But, while they felt very proud of their breeding and training program, it was shepherding Sonoma County kids through competition and developing competent and confident equestrians that they truly loved the most,” says Zanetti.

The Sonoma County Fair Board and Staff are proud to present this year’s Award of Excellence in the Horse Industry to Sybil and Dick Hardy

Sonoma County Event Center at the Fairgrounds
1350 Bennett Valley Road - Santa Rosa, CA 95404

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