In recognition of countless hours of service and selfless dedication, the following individuals have been inducted into the Pima County Fair Hall of Fame. Following are the photos and brief bios of each of the named Hall of Fame Members.
Hall of Fame Eligibility
Hall of Fame Nomination Form

2016 Hall of Fame Inductees

Jose Bernal

Jose Bernal

Born in Mexico, Jose spent much of his early years… Read more

Born in Mexico, Jose spent much of his early years on ranches in the Benson/Willcox area prior to becoming a naturalized citizen in 1974. He has degrees in Animal Sci. and Agricultural Education from the U of A. In 1981 he began teaching at Amphitheater High School where he taught for 30 years. In this program, he had a lot of ethnic minorities, Youth on Their Own and kids with special needs. When he took this job, he thought that he was going to be teaching city kids about agriculture. His goal changed when he realized that “I’m raising kids, not animals”. He was a “Father Figure”, counselor and advisor. Jose held many positions of leadership in education organizations and has received numerous awards. He had as many as 63 FFA exhibitors from his program at the Fair in a single year. He was active in the Pima County Junior Livestock Sales Committee for over 25 years including serving as the group’s president.

Judy Patrick

Judy Patrick

Born in Washington, D.C., Judy moved to Tucson as a… Read more

Born in Washington, D.C., Judy moved to Tucson as a child. She has a Business Management degree from PCC and received a Public Management certificate from the U of A. She has been involved in public service since 1973 and worked for 27 years in various roles in Pima County government. These positions included working in the Building Codes Department and from 1991-2000 was the County’s Director of Land Planning and Development Services. Judy has also served on a number of boards and commissions. She was appointed to the Pima County Fair Commission in 2000 and has served as President of that group as well as being the Secretary of the Southwestern Fair Commission. Judy brought a wealth of leadership, knowledge and business sense to the Board which aided in establishing better communications with the County as well as contributing significantly with new ideas for planning and future growth.



2015 Hall of Fame Inductees

Sharon Landeen

Sharon Landeen

Sharon volunteered as a leader in many areas of 4-H… Read more

Sharon volunteered as a leader in many areas of 4-H for over 40 years. She began as the Dairy Goat and Dairy Foods leader in the Tanque Verde Livestock Club in 1975. From 1973-83 she was the Director of the Dairy Project in the County. Through her involvement, 6 of her dairy club members were chosen as national winners and attended the National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago. In recent years she was also a Sheep Project leader. While on the Pima Co. Leaders Assn., she served as Secretary for 4 years. Sharon was also on the Awards Committee for many years judging county records and reviewing scholarship applications. On several occasions she chaperoned groups of 4-Hers on trips to San Diego, the National 4-H Congress and on the Citizenship trip to Washington, D.C. Sharon is also a published author of children’s books, volunteers as a reading mentor and art director and makes blankets for Project Linus.

Mary Ellen Roberts

Mary Ellen Roberts

As a 4-Her herself, Mary Ellen was a member of… Read more

As a 4-Her herself, Mary Ellen was a member of the Cactus Wren 4-H Club with projects in cooking, sewing and home interiors and is still a leader 36 years later. She became the Community Leader of the Catalina Clovers 4-H Club in 1979 and was also the Leader for the Environmental Studies Project. From 2000-12 she was the Community leader for the Fountain Clovers 4-H Club. She has been a leader in the rabbit, cavy, poultry, pigeon, dog and Vet Science projects. Her 4-Hers worked with various Wildlife Rehabilitation Programs including the Arizona Game and Fish Dept., Trout Unlimited and the Arizona Nature Conservancy. On the Leaders Board, she served both as Treasurer and Vic-President as well as being a long time member of the Scholarship and Record Book Committees. At the Fair she was responsible for setting up 4-H displays in Old Pueblo Hall. Mary Ellen retired from SW Gas after 26 years.



2014 Hall of Fame Inductees

Judy Mellor

Judy Mellor

Growing up in Pinal County, Judy was a 4-H member… Read more

Growing up in Pinal County, Judy was a 4-H member with projects in foods, clothing and home furnishings. As a 4-H volunteer in 1977, she became a leader in the Pins and Pots on Prudence 4-H Club. Her knowledge and skills in the home economics area is legendary. The family moved to the Tanque Verde Livestock Club in about 1980 where she was the Community Leader for 4 years. Judy did a lot at the County level helping organize the food booth, being the Clothing Director and serving on the County 4-H Leader’s Board. Agents over the past 40 years have turned to Judy for advice. Outside of 4-H she was on the on the College of Agriculture & Life Science Council and was their representative to the U of A Alumni Assn. and was the President of the Family & Consumer Sciences Alumni Council. She was also involved with the Cowbells, Daughters of the American Revolution and the Make it Yourself with Wool Contest.

Gene Reid

Gene Reid

Having grown up working in his father’s citrus orchards led… Read more

Having grown up working in his father’s citrus orchards led Gene to the U of A where he majored in Horticulture. He was the first and longest serving City of Tucson parks supervisor, a job he took in 1947. He was the parks director and then director of Tucson Parks and Recreation Dept. when they were combined in 1961. He started with a staff of 6-7 men, 1 lawn mower, a worn out truck and a $67,000 budget. At retirement, in 1978, he oversaw 84 parks, 18 swimming pools, 3 golf courses, a zoo which he started (later named after him) and an $8.8 million budget. He was appointed to the Pima County Fair Commission in 1974 which in turn resulted in the formation of the Southwestern Fair Commission in 1975. In 1986, Gene was appointed as an Emeritus Director of the Commission where he served until his passing in 1999. Someone once observed that Gene didn’t cut through red tape, he ignored it.

Donna Wahl

Donna Wahl

Donna grew up in Wisconsin in a family where 4-H… Read more

Donna grew up in Wisconsin in a family where 4-H was a tradition. She wanted to be in the swine project but back then girls didn’t get to show pigs. In1980 she became the rabbit leader in the Tanque Verde Community 4-H Club. She also served as the leader for gardening, photography, cooking, sewing, dairy and public speaking projects over a 25+ year span. During this time she also worked with the Pathways Ranch Juvenile Detention Center for Boys. Donna designed and published the Pima County 4-H Calendar for 23 years. She was a charter member of the Small Stock Auction Committee. Donna was also instrumental in initiating the Rabbit Advancement Project, the 4-H Rabbit Classic, Cavy Invitational and the Quiz Bowl educational programs in Pima County. Her influence is seen through the volunteers now in the program. For 30 years she worked as a graphic designer and is an excellent painter of desert scenes and pets.



2013 Hall of Fame Inductees

Cecilia Grondin

Cecilia Grondin

Having grown up in Douglas, Cecilia had a career as… Read more

Having grown up in Douglas, Cecilia had a career as a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital. Along with her husband, Everett, in 1969 they became swine project leaders in the El Chaparral 4-H Club and did this for 27 years. She was also a leader for Outdoor Discovery Sports including camping, outdoor cooking, fishing and firearms safety. For over 20 years, through1995, she was the nurse at the 4-H Camp on Mt. Lemmon. For over 35 years, through 2008, she was always at the announcer’s stand during the pig show keeping records. At the Junior Livestock Auction you’d find her behind the announcer’s stand sorting invoices. The Grondin home was also the place where there was an annual overnight gathering to judge Pima County 4-H Records and to award County 4-H Scholarships. She had a very positive impact on many young people.

Toni Fiori

Toni Fiori

One of the key ingredients for a successful fair is… Read more

One of the key ingredients for a successful fair is a good advertising and marketing program. Toni Fiori was one of the best in making that happen. Tony’s family was in the restaurant business in Sonoma County, California. He went to Santa Rosa Junior College where he studied Business and Marketing as well as being the starting center on their championship football team. After spending time in the family restaurant business he and his brother started the first water carts on the fair/carnival circuit. This led him to the Ray Cammack Shows where he rose through the ranks to become their Director of Marketing. He was a tremendous help to the Pima County Fair staff in coming up with marketing strategies and programming which resulted in steadily increasing the Fair’s attendance. His engaging personality and willingness to work together will be greatly missed after his passing in November, 2015.

Jerry Rassmussen

Jerry Rassmussen

Jerry loved anything that had an engine in it. For… Read more

Jerry loved anything that had an engine in it. For a time, he operated a small engine repair shop and then worked at the Santa Rita Ranch for almost 15 years. He retired from the Northern Gas Company just prior to passing in 2006. Jerry and his wife, Sue, were leaders in the 4-H and Friends Club and then the Alpha Teens 4-H Club. Project areas included rocketry, bicycles, small engines, woodworking and small stock. Over the years he was the Project Director for the Science and Technology group, President of the 4-H Leaders Assn. and Small Stock Committee Chairman. He also served two terms on the Extension Board. In 1987 he and a few others brought some of their antique engines to the Fair. And that is how “Power from the Past” got started. Jerry was the first President and the “Perpetual President”. As the founder of the club, a windmill was erected at the head of tractor row in his honor.



2012 Hall of Fame Inductees

Raul H. Castro

Raul H. Castro

Born in Cananea, Mexico, Raul Castro moved to Arizona in… Read more

Born in Cananea, Mexico, Raul Castro moved to Arizona in 1926 and later became a citizen. Through grueling labor and self-denial, he saved enough to enter Arizona State Teachers College (now NAU) from which he graduated in1939. Accepted by the U of A Law College, he earned his Juris Doctorate and was admitted to the Arizona Bar in 1949. He was elected as Pima County Attorney and was appointed as the US Ambassador to El Salvador and Bolivia and later to Argentina. In 1969, returning to Tucson he specialized in international law. In 1974, he became the first Hispanic to be elected Governor of Arizona. As Governor, he made money available to construct the Livestock Building in 1976. With this notable addition to the fairgrounds, it allowed for the significant expansion of the equestrian and livestock facilities.

Jo Clark

Jo Clark

In the late 1960’s, Jo began her 4-H career when… Read more

In the late 1960’s, Jo began her 4-H career when she started the El Con Mustangs 4-H Club. She was the Community Leader and sewing leader until project areas grew to include foods, child care, photography, carpentry, home management and more. Jo’s greatest contribution to 4-H was in helping shape youth by developing their leadership skills, public speaking skills and a pride for citizenship. Jo spent countless hours working in the 4-H Food Booth. She was involved with the 4-H Leader’s Assn. for over 20 years, including being President. In the 70’s-80’s she and her husband, Don, were involved with processing all of the paperwork involved with the 4H/FFA Livestock Auction. Jo was also on the Board of Directors of the Arizona 4-H Youth Foundation. Outside of 4-H, Jo has also been active in the Tucson Symphony, Arizona State Genealogical Society and the Governor’s Commission on the Arts.

Ralph Hall

Ralph Hall

Ralph spent his career working for Commerce Clearing House selling… Read more

Ralph spent his career working for Commerce Clearing House selling law and tax guides to attorneys and tax accountants. In 1968 he started the Mesquite Branch 4-H Club and was their first Community Club Leader. As president of the 4-H Leaders Assn., he took an active role in the early 1970’s when the decision was made to separate 4-H and SAILA at the Fair. Beginning in 1970 he was a ringman for the Livestock Auction and continued this until his passing in 2001. At the Fair, he was the Barn Superintendent from 1972 through the late 90’s when 4-H and FFA enrollment and entries reached their peak. Ralph was one of the incorporators of the Pima County Junior Livestock Sales Committee in 1986. An avid outdoorsman, he loved quail hunting with his Vizslas and trout fishing in the White Mountains.



2011 Hall of Fame Inductees

S.Y. Barkley

S.Y. Barkley

S. Y. BARKLEY In a March 15, 1915 newspaper article,… Read more

S. Y. BARKLEY
In a March 15, 1915 newspaper article, S. Y. Barkley and John B. Ryland were credited with having originated the idea for the first fair in Pima County. The two of them succeeded in interesting the Chamber of Commerce in holding two “exhibit fairs” at Elysian Grove in 1911, one year before Arizona became a state, and again in 1912. Mr. Barkley had interests in the Heidel Hotel and the Bell Drug Company. He was also a director of the Merchants Bank and Trust Company as well as being on the School Board of the Tucson Public Schools. At the 1911 Fair, he was 2nd Vice President and in 1912 he served as Fair Vice President. In 1915 the Fair moved to a new location near where the Kino Sports Complex is now located with he and Ryland bearing the brunt of the work in its development. He was the President for the 1915 and 1916 Fairs.

Donald Butler

Donald Butler

Mr. Butler is a nationally recognized leader in the Agricultural… Read more

Mr. Butler is a nationally recognized leader in the Agricultural Industry. Having graduated from the U of A, he is the past President of the U of A Alumni Assn., Arizona Agriculture “100” Council, the Arizona Cattle Feeder’s Assn. and the National Cattleman’s Assn. He was active in foreign business affairs including his involvement with the U.S. Meat Export Federation and Agrolink Corp. He also served as Director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture. He was the first President of the Southwestern Fair Commission when it was formed in 1975. Under his guidance a framework for the operation of the fairgrounds was put into place. He and his fellow commissioners even took financial liability for expenses in getting the fairgrounds established. Mr. Butler’s leadership set the course for a new beginning for the Pima County Fair.

Jean Buzzard

Jean Buzzard

Jean started the Tanque Verde Livestock 4-H Club and was… Read more

Jean started the Tanque Verde Livestock 4-H Club and was the Community Club Leader for 21 years. Under her guidance, at one point the club had over 175 members and 25 leaders. She was a member and President of both the 4-H Leaders Association and the Pima County Junior Livestock Sales Committee. She was sometimes affectionately referred to as “Mother 4-H”. During the Fair, she was the announcer for many of the shows, organized the Round Robin Showmanship finals and was the first woman ring person for the Livestock Auction. When the Pima County Fairgrounds was being developed, she served on the Steering Committee for the Master Plan. In addition, she was extremely active in the Arizona Paint Horse Club and was a National Director of the American Paint Horse Association. The Jean Buzzard Hall of Champions is so named in her honor.

James T. Grimes

James T. Grimes

A Tucson native, Mr. Grimes graduated from Tucson High in… Read more

A Tucson native, Mr. Grimes graduated from Tucson High in 1960 where he was an all-state football player. In 1963 he enlisted in the US Navy. He had a 38 year career with Golden Eagle Distributers, starting as a route driver and finishing his career as President of the company. In that capacity he was very supportive of events at the fairgrounds. He was a longtime respected leader in the Tucson business community. His affiliations included being the President of the Sales & Marketing Executives of Tucson, the Arizona Beer Wholesalers of Arizona and the VIP Breakfast Club. Jimmy was also a member of the American Legion. He was a 17 year member of the SWFC and served as President from 2000 until his passing in 2012. Under his leadership, significant steps were taken to make the fairgrounds a first rate facility. Jimmy considered the Fairgrounds his “second home”. In recognition, the Cantina bar is lit with a “Jimmy’s Bar” sign.

Charlene & Guy Leavitt

Charlene & Guy Leavitt

Art Frazier’s World Fair Shows provided the midway entertainment at… Read more

Art Frazier’s World Fair Shows provided the midway entertainment at the Pima County Fair as early as 1967. In 1980, Ray Cammack purchased the carnival but continued to operate under the Frazier name through 1982 when they changed the name to Ray Cammack Shows (and later RCS). The Pima County Fair was their very first fair. Owned and operated by Charlene (Ray Cammack’s daughter) and Guy Leavitt, RCS headquarters is in Laveen, Arizona. In addition to playing at the Arizona State Fair, they also provide the entertainment at some of the Southwest’s largest fairs including the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Los Angeles and Orange County Fairs, and the San Diego Co. Fair. RCS is the premiere carnival in the western United States. Operated with the involvement of many family members, their assistance in promoting, scheduling, and providing funds for facility improvements have helped make our Fair a success.

Al Mallis

Al Mallis

During WW II, Al enlisted in the military at 17… Read more

During WW II, Al enlisted in the military at 17 and served in the 82nd Airborne Division where he earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. He graduated from the U of A and operated the old Tucson Sports Center for nearly 30 years. Mr. Mallis was one of the original members of the Southwestern Fair Commission when it was formed in 1975 and served as a commissioner for 6 years. He was best known as the “Voice of the Pima County Fair” being the Master of Ceremonies on the “Big Stage” and the announcer on the PA system for the Fair. He was also the Entertainment Coordinator for 18 years and in that capacity was often referred to as “Mr. Entertainment”. He had a real passion for the Fair. Always with a big smile or a joke, he often would whip out his harmonica and play a song for you.

Rik Nakatani

Rik Nakatani

No fair would be complete without food vendors. Next to… Read more

No fair would be complete without food vendors. Next to the entertainment provided by the carnival, concerts and other attractions, the variety of foods available is something most fairgoers look forward to on their trip to the fair. Thus they play an important part in attracting people to attend. Because these concessionaires pay the operator of the fair, in this case the Southwestern Fair Commission, a fee for being there, they become an important part of the fair’s revenue source. However, some vendors are always willing to give back in a number of ways. Rik Nakatani, who for over 30 years operated Rik’s Cook House at the Pima County Fair, was one of those. For many years he was the primary food donor for helping feed the many youngsters (usually in the range of 2000-3000) that annually attend the Special Needs Day at our Fair. In addition, he and his workers were always available to assist with this event

John B. Ryland

John B. Ryland

In a March 15, 1915 newspaper article, John B. Ryland… Read more

In a March 15, 1915 newspaper article, John B. Ryland and S. Y. Barkley were credited with having originated the idea for the first fair in Pima County. The two of them succeeded in interesting the Chamber of Commerce in holding two “exhibit fairs” at Elysian Grove in 1911, one year before Arizona became a state, and again in 1912. Mr. Ryland was described as “an old resident of Arizona and Tucson and is known throughout the whole state”. At the 1911 Fair, Mr. Ryland was the Superintendent of the Livestock Department and in 1912 served as Fair President. In 1915 the Fair moved to a new location near where the Kino Sports Complex is now located with he and Barkley bearing the brunt of the work in its development. For the 1915 and 1916 Fairs he served as Vice-President.

Marvin R. Selke

Marvin R. Selke

Marvin was on the Animal Sciences faculty at the U… Read more

Marvin was on the Animal Sciences faculty at the U of A for over 34 years. His 50+ year involvement with the Pima County Fair began when he was asked to sift the market steers in the 1965 Fair at the Rodeo Grounds. He judged the swine or sheep shows for the next 7 years. Following that he became a leader in the Tanque Verde Livestock Club. From 1979-84 he was the Beef Project Director. He was on the Livestock Advisory Committee for the Southwestern Fair Commission prior to Don Clark, Ralph Hall and he acting as incorporators for the Pima County Junior Livestock Sales Committee in 1986. He was also the Master of Ceremonies for the Livestock Auction for many years. For the Fair’s Centennial Celebration in 2011 he chaired the Centennial Committee and wrote a significant portion of the Fair History. As a member of the Southwestern Fair Commission since 1986, he has twice served as President.

Harold Thurber

Harold Thurber

Mr. Thurber was a member of a New York shipbuilding… Read more

Mr. Thurber was a member of a New York shipbuilding and yachting family. Health problems brought him to Arizona in 1922. He was the founder and President of Catalina Savings and Loan Assn. He also developed the Singing Valley Ranch north of Sonoita and was sometimes referred to as “Mr. Hereford”. In 1957 the Southern Arizona International Livestock Assn. was incorporated. He ran that organization from its beginning until 1983, serving intermittently as President, Chairman and Executive Director. SAILA, under his direction, conducted the County Fair from 1960-74. In 1969, Thurber, on behalf of SAILA purchased the 640 acres of state land where the Fair is now located. Pima County, in turn, completed the acquisition of the property in 1975. Mr. Thurber played a very significant role in the acquisition and early development of this land which likely would not have happened without his tenacity.



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