SJFB community shows support for YF&R despite heat

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By Vicky Boyd

Although thermometers topped 100 degrees, San Joaquin Farm Bureau members, friends and family turned out in force to support Young Farmers & Ranchers at their recent Summer’s Bounty fundraiser.

The strong showing was a relief to YF&R co-chair Dennis Drake, who was originally concerned the hot weather would scare away attendees.

“We thought with the heat that a lot of people would bail, but just about everybody turned out, and it was an amazing event,” he said.

Brooklyn Petersen, YF&R fundraiser chair, said she didn’t expect the large turn-out either but was equally excited. About 230 people attended.

At the same time, numerous YF&R members volunteered and helped the event run smoothly, Drake said.

“We had a huge amount of support from a lot of new YF&R and existing members as well,” Drake said. “It was really, really amazing that everybody stepped up and helped play a part in this. Without them, we wouldn’t have been as successful as we were.”

Petersen credited a new system she set up this year that used Evite online invitations as well as a Google online document for volunteers to sign up for specific duties and shifts. Plus she said the event is a good way for potential or new members to learn more about YF&R.

“This for us is a super fun event to bring people to who are thinking about joining or are new,” Petersen said. “It’s a good introduction to YF&R, so there definitely were some newer faces.”

YF&R is designed for those 18-35 years old who are involved in agriculture or have an interest in it.

Held this year at Intercoastal Winery east of Lodi, the Summer’s Bounty barbecue is the group’s main fundraiser of the year.  Event proceeds help fund student scholarships, purchases of 4-H and FFA animals at AgFest, YF&R social and leadership activities, and community service projects.

Hot time at Summer’s Bounty

The cooking crew, including YF&R members Jake Samuel, Neil Norman, and brothers Donald and Dennis Drake, showed up about 1 p.m. in the heat of the day to start the coals and begin preparing the meal.

“It was brutal, but we managed through it thanks to Sunrise Fresh and United Rentals for providing the coolers,” Dennis Drake said. “We had a job to do, and we couldn’t let everybody down on the food.”

The local ag and business community also came through by donating food for the dinner, which meant more of the event’s proceeds could go directly toward YF&R projects and activities.

“Without their support, we can’t do any of the scholarships, the purchasing of animals at AgFest, and all of the socials we do for all of the Young Farmers & Ranchers,” Drake said. “Without their donations of food, it would hinder our ability to make money, for sure.”

YF&R co-chair Norman agreed. “All the donations are extremely important. This is the one event we have that pretty much gets us through the whole rest of the year. It does a lot of scholarships. It does our fair buying. It’s kind of an all-inclusive fundraiser for us.”

Other generous supporters included Rachele and Mitch Spaletta, who own Intercoastal Winery.

“It was an amazing gesture that they did,” Drake said. “Agreeing to host over 250 people is hard enough as it is. The Spalettas let us use their venue for free — it was just in God’s grace.”

Petersen said the Spalettas were “absolutely incredible” to work with and helped them with whatever needed to be done.

The popular live dessert auction following dinner did not disappoint. As always, auctioneer Jim Mulrooney of Mulrooney Auctions in Lockeford used his skill and humor to encourage bidders to raise the ante as each sweet treat was showcased. Participants responded with a number of bids well over $1,000 for desserts or for a new offering — the VIP table at the 2024 Summer’s Bounty.

The VIP table was one of the new non-dessert items that the committee added to the live auction this year. The others were root beer floats accompanied by a beach cruiser bicycle and a fruit pizza with a table-top pizza oven.

The live auction culminated with Rachele Spaletta offering up a magnum of their limited Joey red blend meritage wine, made to honor the late Joey Dondero.

Calling the Spalettas’ donation a complete surprise, Drake said it “really helped us quite a bit.”

The complementary silent auction and raffle drawings aided YF&R fundraising efforts. Petersen noted Katie Veenstra and Jenna Rose Lee were responsible for securing about 55 donations together for those two activities.

“The community support really means a lot, and it shows people care about what we do as an organization and the impact we have on the community,” Drake said.