WATSONVILLE—Guy George, whose roots in Pajaro Valley agriculture stretch back to his immigrant parents, has earned this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award by the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture.
George joins Trina Coffman-Gomez and Dana Sales as Woman and Man of the Year, along with El Vaquero Winery as Business of the Year and Casa de la Cultura as Organization of the Year.
The Santa Cruz County Fair Foundation’s Crab Feed earned the title of this year’s Event of the Year.
The awardees will be honored at the Chamber’s 61st annual Awards Dinner on July 29 at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. Tickets will go on sale April 26.
Lifetime Achievement: Guy George
In a press release, the Chamber says that George has served as mentor to generations of young farmers, even as he continues to farm in his 90s.
He grew up on the small dairy farm run by his parents, both of whom were Portuguese immigrants.
George served as an aviation mechanic in the United States Navy, and graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in business. He then began farming strawberries and fruit trees with his father. He also sold cabbage under his own label, “King George.”
He farmed cabbage and lettuce for 20 years, and spent another 25 years farming vegetables on many individual properties throughout the Pajaro Valley.
In the 1980s he turned to growing blackberries and strawberries, and became a grower for Driscoll’s in 1998.
He then formed Rancho Alitos, where he grows strawberries and blackberries.
He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Agricultural History Project. He was named Farmer of the Year in 2022 by the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau.
Woman of the Year: Trina Coffman-Gomez
Coffman-Gomez ran the Watsonville High School Grad Night for more than a decade.
She has been on the Freedom Rotary Club for more than a decade and is currently serving for the second time as president of the club.
She is working behind the scenes with Rotary to help with Pajaro flood relief efforts, the Chamber said.
Under her leadership, donations last year at the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle kickoff luncheon surpassed the organization’s $26,000 goal, the Chamber said.
She has served on the City Planning Commission, and was on the City Council for eight years. She is a founding board member for Central Coast Community Energy.
Coffman-Gomez has been a commissioner for the Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission, AMBAG and Santa Cruz Metro, among other organizations.
As president of the Pajaro Valley Arts Council, she helped negotiate the purchase of the Porter Building.
Man of the Year: Dana Sales
A Watsonville High School graduate, Sales was in the percussion section of the school’s band.
He attended the United States Naval Academy, where he was in the Academy’s Drum and Bugle Corps.
Sales was a trustee on the Santa Cruz County Board of Education for 28 years. He was also a Pajaro Valley Unified School District trustee for seven years.
In addition, Sales served as chair of the Education and Ambassadors Committees of the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce.
He has been a local realtor for 33 years.
Sales has performed with the Watsonville Community Band for nearly three decades.
He is a founding president of the Pajaro Valley Jaycees, and of Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance.
Sales has served on the boards of the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Watsonville Red Cross, the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County and the Advisory Board of the Watsonville Salvation Army.
Business of the Year: El Vaquero Winery
Owned and operated by Bob and Dean Prikazsky, El Vaquero Winery was born after Bob took a winemaking class at Cabrillo College.
The pair began making wine at home in 2011, and planted their estate in Corralitos two years later. They celebrated their first harvest in 2013.
Among other accolades, El Vaquero earned a score of 93 and a Gold for their 2019 Merlot in the Los Angeles Invitational Wine and Spirits Challenge.
Organization of the Year: Casa de la Cultura
Founded in 1989 by Sister Rosa Dolores Rodriguez, Casa de la Cultura is part food pantry, part clinic and part social services hub and is the only nonprofit in the area focused on offering comprehensive services for the large community of farmworkers that call the Pajaro Valley home.
The organization also offers classes on literacy, music, computers, ESL, nutrition, cooking and sewing, among others.
Casa de la Cultura also holds an annual Christmas food and gift giveaway during the holiday season.
Event of the Year: Santa Cruz County Fair Foundation Crab Feed
Back to being an in-person event after two years, the 19th annual Crab Feed drew 450 people to the J.J. Crosetti Hall on March 4.
The all-volunteer Crab Feed raises money for the Fairgrounds Foundation.
With the help of so many we out on a great function, all without a single person from the Fairboard! The Heritage volunteers, ex Fairboard Directors Loretta Estrada and Sue King has been the driving force of the event since the first time we had the Crab feed to raise money to help with the funding of restoring the Rodgers House. When they had the house completed they turned the event over to the Heritage Foundation. It has been such a successful event for many years, all put on by volunteers. This year the two Directors , Loretta Estrada and Jody Belgard who were dismissed by the Governor was the only two Directors to work the event. It shows you the true love they have for the fairgrounds.