The Colusa County Fair Foundation honored four people on June 6 with the organization’s first ever Heritage Awards.
The non-profit organization recognized Alma Hickel, of Colusa, Marie Spooner and Bob Alvernaz, of Williams, and Gilbert Ramos, of Arbuckle, at the Foundation’s annual fundraiser in the T.K. Marshal Pavilion last Wednesday night.
Foundation President Ben Carter said the four longtime Colusa County residents were selected for the prestigious award because they chose to dedicate a significant portion of their time and resources over the years in a way that has made the fairgrounds richer, memorable, and exceptional.
“Each of them has offered decades of outstanding support and promotion of the Colusa County Fair programs and events, and has made significant contributions to the Colusa County Fair and the 44th District Agricultural Association. The Heritage award is the foundation’s highest honor.”
In addition to receiving the Heritage awards, Hickel, Spooner, Ramos, and Alvernaz each received a framed resolution from the California Legislature, which was presented to them by Assemblyman James Gallagher.
Hickel, 91, has been a resident of Colusa for over 65 years. She was Key Leader of the Westside 4-H Club in Colusa and assisted many young 4-H members in getting their entries ready for the fair each year. Her young charges had entries in a variety of areas, including home economics, woodworking, and ag mechanics. She also patrolled the 4-H building in the evenings during the fair.
For many years, Hickel baked pies for Our Lady of Lourdes pie booth during the farm show, and has a 40-year history as a Colusa County Fair exhibitor, which showcased her talents in many areas.
Spooner, 97, is a lifetime resident of Colusa County. She was raised during the Great Depression and learned the importance of maintaining a family garden, and generously shared its bounty with others.
She began entering a variety of baked goods, candy, confections, jams, jellies, and numerous garden entries in the Colusa County Fair in the 1970s, at the encouragement of her friend Catherine Costa who was then a new member of the Colusa County Fair Board.
In 1994, Spooner had a combined 93 food and garden entries in the County Fair, and 34 entries in 2017, which she said was her last year competing.
Spooner is also known as a “Rock Star” for baking pies for charity auctions, with one recently bringing $5000.
Ramos, 71, moved from Winters to Arbuckle in the 1940s, when his father, Tony, decided to sell their apricot and peach orchards to farm almonds. Ramos graduated from Pierce High School, attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and has farmed almonds and other crops for more than 45 years. Ramos is a Pierce Bear Booster and supports both the Arbuckle Parks & Recreation and the Arbuckle Revitalization Committee. He was a member of the Arbuckle Lions Club for 20 years (1975-1995), where he served as deputy District Governor and chaired the speaking contests at the District and Zone levels.
Ramos is a 30-year member and past president of the Colusa County Farm Bureau. He also served as a Director of the California Farm Bureau representing Colusa, Glenn and Yolo counties, and has served as a director for the Colusa County Resource Conservation District.
In addition, Ramos has been involved in the Colusa County Fair for decades. He was a Fair Board member for 15 years and has worked tirelessly on the Destruction Derby Committee, and on the Farm Show Committee for 35 years. He was also instrumental in establishing the rabbit and chicken programs at the fair.
Alvernaz, 87, and family moved to Colusa County in 1960, where he farmed rice and raised cattle. He served on the Williams School Board, and was 4-H beef leader for 33 years. Each year, Alvernaz weighed steers as they arrived at the fair, oversaw the care of the animals, and guided 4-H kids through their projects.
Alvernaz was a member of the Fair Board from 1970-1998, and served as president for many of those years. Because of his experience, he has been a mentor to many fair directors. Alvernaz was instrumental in gaining funding to build the T.K. Marshall Arena, where the awards were handed out, and was a fixture at the Junior Livestock Auction, helping the volunteers and kids and taking bids for the animals being sold. Alvernaz continues to be an active member of the Colusa Farm Show Committee, and has served as a director of the Colusa County Resource Conservation District for the past 48 years.
Alvernaz still raises cattle and helps his sons farm from time to time.
Carter presented each of the Heritage award recipients with an individual plaque, but also a perpetual plaque will kept at the Colusa County Fairgrounds office with their names, with future recipients to be added, as a reminder that the Fairgrounds relies heavily on volunteers who are willing to make a commitment to keeping Colusa County and the Colusa County Fair’s rich heritage alive for future generations.
“We hope that our young people who learn about the contributions of these special people, are inspired to participate, to share their talents, and to stay involved doing things they love that help others,” Carter said.