April is Strawberry Month in Santa Maria, and 2011 certainly produced some wonderful ripe specimens! As usual, to take part in celebrating Santa Maria’s favorite fruit, the Chamber of Commerce proudly partnered with the Santa Maria Fairpark to put on its annual Strawberry Industry Recognition Dinner and Queen Pageant events.

Sarafin of Mariach Alma De Jalisco

The Strawberry Industry Recognition Dinner was bustling with growers, shippers, and other industry workers & supporters. Over 500 people filled the Park Plaza Building on April 13 to celebrate California all those who make the industry such a big part of the Santa Maria Valley economy. After an hour of fantastic performances by Mariachi Alma de Jalisco followed by music by A Class Act Entertainment, everyone enjoyed a delicious meal by of Testa Catering.  Of course the event was not complete without awarding recognition to the best of the year. The 2010 award winners were as follows: Supervisor/Manager-Javier Maldonado, DB Specialty Farms; Sales Association – Driscoll’s; Cooler–Frontier Cooling;

Grower of the Year Ruperto Velasquez (Harbor View Farms) receiving recognition from Emcee George Chavez (L&G Farms/Sunberry Sales)

Grower (under 50 acres) –Kevin Guggia, KG Berry; and Grower (50 acres or more) – Ruperto Velasquez, Harbor View Farms.  Congratulations to all of the award recipients!

The Strawberry Queen contest kicked off this year in February when 14 girls signed up to sell tickets in competition for the coveted crown. Each of the girls, aged 5-15, worked very hard to try to sell the most tickets in an effort to win. On April 29 the girls and their families gathered for the coronation on opening day of

Sydney Sugars

Strawberry Festival at the Fairpark.

Aleena Santana, 2011 Strawberry Queen

The girls primped, preened and posed for photos and then it was showtime. They each showed off their gowns to the judges and answered questions about themselves for the crowd. While the judges pained over their Miss Personality & Photogenic decisions, we enjoyed studdning perfomrances by Madison Morin (6) and Sydney Sugars (9) who competed in the recent Santa Maria Has Talent Show. Finally, the time came to announce the winners, and they are: 2011 Strawberry Queen – Aleena Santana, 1st Princess – Bryanna Rose Kellerman, 2nd Princess – Rachel Green.  Additional awards were given to Rachel Green for Miss Photogenic and Cierra Quintana who won Miss Personality. Congratulations to ALL the girls for all their hard work, and thank you to Heidi of Photoworks Frame Gallery for taking photos of the event. You can catch the royal strawberry court in the Elks Rodeo Parade on June 4th.

2011 Strawberry Princesses, Rachel Green & Bryanna Kellerman

Special thanks to the Santa Maria Fairpark, our Strawberry Event Committee and all of the ambassadors who worked very hard to make these events so successful.