If you’re like most Californians you enjoy about 7 pounds of this savory crop every year. In fact, last year alone, consumers bought 174,604,452 flats of California-produced strawberries – nearly 1.4 billon individual packages! That’s a lot of love for the strawberry! But while you’re enjoying the tasty fruits, have you ever stopped and thought about all it takes to produce the berries and get them to your grocer, or the rich history that brought them to your backyard?

Today, of the 85% of the nation’s berries that are grown in California, Santa Maria Valley is the third largest producing region growing 8-10 varieties and around 212 million strawberry plants each year and employing thousands of people. As one of our valley’s top 3 commodities, the strawberry industry fuels our economy to the tune of over $75 million each year. Here’s a brief overview of the extensive process: plants are developed by scientists at UC Davis; growers buy, plant and grow them; packing companies make boxes and clam shells and give them to the growers; farm workers harvest the berries and package them;  they are sent to cooling houses; and finally they shipped to various grocery stores for your enjoyment.

It is for all of these reasons and many others, that we gather each year to pay homage this delicious commodity and those who work so hard to keep the local industry thriving with our Annual Strawberry Industry Recognition Dinner.

For the 23rd year, we will happily join with Major Sponsor, California Giant and all of those in the California Strawberry industry in highlighting this important facet of our community at the annual Strawberry Industry Dinner; Recognizing farmers, employees and other individuals who contribute so much to the industry.

The dinner attracts businesses who do business with the Strawberry growers as well as individuals who want to know more about the industry. Please, join us in paying tribute to these fine families and workers, and of course the bountiful berry itself on April 13th at the Santa Maria Fairpark. Cocktail hour featuring live entertainment by Mariachi Alma de Jalisco begins at 6pm with dinner and program at 7pm. The event will be emceed by George Chavez (L&G Farming/ Sunberry Sales) and Tony Gonzales (Mega 97.1 FM). Dinner will be a Santa Maria Style BBQ with strawberry flair catered by Testa Catering. And ambiance provided by DJ Pete Ruiz of A Class Act Entertainment. This year we will also have a photo booth so you can treasure the memory of the evening for years to come.

Make reservations no later than April 3 by visiting www.santamaria.com

For more information, contact Marcy at marcy@santamaria.com or 805.925.2403 x816.

ABOUT MAJOR SPONSOR, CALIFORNIA GIANT: California Giant is one of the nation’s leading strawberry grower-shippers, producing over 13 million crates annually. Although headquartered in Watsonville, they also have major growing and cooling operations in Oxnard and Santa Maria. Their berries are offered in a variety of pack styles, are shipped year-round to customers all over the world, and are known for their excellent quality. California Giant is a leader in the fresh produce industry in many areas. Their on-going breeding research program continues to develop new varieties best suited to each of our growing districts’ unique climates with the important characteristics of excellent taste and appearance. They are even testing varieties on a global level, with varieties now growing in Argentina, Australia, Italy, France, Guatemala and Spain. They are proud of our products grown here in the Santa Maria Valley and shipped all over the world, and proud to be a part of the Santa Maria Valley business community.

Also, special thanks to Naturipe Berry Growers & Better Produce for sponsoring the entertainment and to UltraGro for sponsoring the photo booth for this year’s Strawberry Dinner!