A record crowd of over 300 persons turned out for the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce 69th Annual Awards Dinner on Friday night, Jan. 16.
The evening was highlighted with the Lifetime Achievement Award presented to the Bacigalupi Family, owners of the H-B Saloon, for their years of philanthropic giving and community service.
When accepting the award for his family, Mike Bacigalupi thanked the people of Oakdale, which he said made the giving so easy to do for the community.
As he got emotional, Bacigalupi also acknowledged two important persons in his life.
“For 30 years, my wife (Susan) has assisted and run the restaurant, and no one ever mentions her,” he said. “Since 1972, when we took over the building, every morning that’s where you can find my lovely mother, Bernie.”
The Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Christie Camarillo, Executive Director of the Oakdale Cowboy Museum.
Camarillo was recognized for her efforts to promote Oakdale tourism and sharing Oakdale’s rodeo and ranching history with the museum’s visitors, and various outreach programs. She also serves as the president of the Rodeo Historical Society that’s associated with the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK.
For the past year, Camarillo has volunteered her time promoting Oakdale as the retirement home of Bushwacker, the three-time PBR World Champion bucking bull, during his 2014 farewell tour.
Camarillo said it was a wonderful recognition to be honored in front of the guests and a very supportive community.
“I’m proud to serve Oakdale, but have learned from a lot of you,” Camarillo said when accepting the award. “I’m honored. Everyone that was nominated is really a winner. We’re all doing commendable things for our community.”
The Junior Achievement Awards were presented to Veronica Becerra, a student at Oakdale Junior High School, and Stephanie Kupper of Oakdale High School.
Becerra, a member of Leadership, coordinated the Christmas Spirit Tree at her school for local youths in need, and was inspired by her father’s death and turned her pain into a quest to help herself and others heal. She attended events for daughters of lost family members and is a part of suicide awareness by raising money and participating in the Walk Out of Darkness event.
Kupper, 18, has created a program with her sister to gather needed items around town and donate them to the Oakdale Animal Shelter and works to raise funds for Relay For Life, Oakdale Community Sharing, Sierra View Music Festival, helps with Oakdale Community Cleanup, and the Christmas CanTree event with her mother. While volunteering at the local Farmer’s Market with the Animal Shelter, she came across the ASTRO Foundation to help pets in need of homes in Oakdale and Riverbank and now, along with working as a volunteer at the local animal shelter, she has established and is the President of “The ASTRO Club” at OHS.
The Community Service Award was divided this year, with one going to each nominee, the Oakdale Rotary Club and Oakdale Senior Citizens Foundation.
For this year’s Business of the Year, the Chamber of Commerce divided the category into a large business with more than 20 employees and a small business with less than 20 employees.
Cowboy Toffee Company was awarded the small business honor and Raley’s was presented the large business award.
Oakdale Chamber of Commerce CEO Mary Guardiola thanked the community for attending to support the honorees.
“As always (there are) many deserving community members in Oakdale,” said Guardiola after the event. “Our surprise this year by making the business category both small and large was a great addition to the presentations for recognition. Next year is the 70th Annual Chamber Awards Dinner and we are already planning for that big night.”