Fair/rodeo family of year honors bestowed on Stegemans

GRANDVIEW - The tables were full of smiling people enjoying a delectable meal last night at the Yakima Valley Fair & Rodeo Foundation dinner and auction.

Auctioneer Paul Newman and local vocalist Hannah Bos kept the crowd entertained throughout the evening. Bos provided the musical entertainment, and Newman used the raffles and auction to draw the crowd’s attention with his humor.

Honored at the annual event were Pat and Mike Stegeman. The couple was named the family of the year.

“We honor you for all your dedication,” said foundation member Cathy Mears, who said the couple has volunteered numerous hours in support of the Yakima Valley Fair & Rodeo.

Mrs. Stegeman, Mears said, is counted on to supply food to the volunteers as the fairgrounds are prepared each August. She arrives in her “traveling kitchen,” prepared to feed the hungry men and women making sure the fair comes off without a hitch.

“The board knows it’s not always been easy,” said Mears, noting the Stegemans have supported the Yakima Valley Fair & Rodeo since it was located where Yakima Valley Community College now sits.

Mr. Stegeman said it is because of his wife that he got involved in the Yakima Valley Fair & Rodeo.

“This (the dinner) is like it was when we first started…she dragged me along,” he joked, referring to his wife.

He told the gathering that he would ask his wife where one of his power tools or yard implements was.

“She would say it was at the fairgrounds…I got involved for self-defense purposes,” quipped Stegeman.

He said he has many memories of the years the couple has been volunteering for the Yakima Valley Fair & Rodeo.

Stegeman recalled the construction of the Beavin building at Country Park.

He said the construction materials were lying on the ground and he began asking questions. Before he knew what was happening, he and a group of volunteers were raising the building.

“We got the roof up on the first weekend and we were going to put down gravel, until the decision was made that we were going to install restrooms,” Stegemen shared.

He said as the work progressed different businesses and community members offered their services and support to ensure the completion of the structure, which is the largest of the buildings at Country Park.

“Community support made it happen,” said Stegeman.

He said each member of the Stegeman family has been involved in the Yakima Valley Fair & Rodeo, and he is proud of the memories they have created.

“We made a lot of friends…it’s all been worth it,” said Stegeman.

Mrs. Stegeman spoke briefly to the crowd. She said, “The Beavins building was constructed with help from people all over the valley.”

She said the memories her family has are because of the people living in the Yakima Valley and she is proud of those who support the Yakima Valley Fair & Rodeo.

Following the couple’s speeches, Newman began a game of heads and tails before opening up the live auction event.

Foundation members as of press time today were still tallying the funds collected at last night’s event. The immediate goal of the Yakima Valley Fair & Rodeo Foundation is to complete the replacement of bleachers at the rodeo grounds, according to Martina Charvet.

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