Icons of SCCFMC

A VOLUNTEER is a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.

We at the Santa Clara County Fair are so grateful to have many volunteers who offer numerous hours of time, a vase knowledge base, an unwavering dedication to our heritage and a desire to keep the long stand nostalgia of the Santa Clara County Fair going.  The love these individuals have for the Santa Clara County Fair is like no other. 

Here we would like to give these quintessential volunteers the warmest of appreciation and huge THANK YOU to for their numerous years of continued support.  Without their generosity all of this would not be possible.

LORRAINE MARIE TOENSFELDT

Lonnie1Lonnie, contributed extensively to the youth of Santa Clara County. She was a long time 4-H Leader at the County level and in Cupertino where she lived. Her 4-H career started in 1972 when she co-founded Rolling Hills 4-H Club, currently the largest 4-H Club in the County. In 1973 she served on a Citizen’s Advisory Committee that designated a newly-acquired 16 acres property as a Rural and Natural Preserve. The following year she brokered a lease to a two acre section for use as a 4-H Farm site that is one of 4 remaining shared sites on public land in the county. She went on to serve as the Club Community leader for about 25 years. During that time she served as the writer, editor, and publisher of the monthly 4-H newsletter (Timely Topics) for 20 years, served several terms as County 4-H Council President, served as Adult leader for several learning Projects, and filled the position of 4-H Key Leader for about two decades. With another leader she initiated and held Youth Exchanges with 4-H members of three other states.

In the late 1970’s and through the 1980’s her 3 daughters raised 22 market animals – sheep, swine, and cattle – that were shown and auctioned at the Santa Clara County Fair. During those years, and for several years thereafter, she hosted a small travel trailer where club youths stayed during the run of the Fair. Through her associations with the Fair she became a member of the original Fair Association and later served for a few years on the Fairgrounds Advisory Committee. On several occasions she rallied members of 4-H to attend meetings of the County Supervisors to gain support for the local 4-H Office and the Fairgrounds. She also served for 8 years on the Cupertino Parks and Recreation Commission; during that time, the City built its first Senior Center. She followed with about 5 years on the County Animal Advisory Committee. She also served on the Boards of the Clover Foundation and of the Assistance League of Los Gatos-Saratoga, supplying school supplies to low-income children and lunches for Seniors.

HANS TOENSFELDT

Hans Toensfeldt, known to most simply as “Mr. T,” has supported youth agricultural programs in Santa Clara County for more than four decades. It all started when his eldest daughter joined Rolling Hills 4-H club and his wife Lonnie was recruited to take over the Club Leader position. Soon Mr. T was building a chicken coop in the backyard and giving engineering advice on how best to layout a sewing pattern, harvest a chicken or fix a fence at the club ranch. Throughout it all he continued to support Lonnie in her mission to teach, grow, and mentor their extended 4-H Family. Mr. and Mrs. T continued to fall in love with the program as they saw their daughters, and the rest of their 4-H family grow and succeed. It became their life’s work. Hans took on the position of Treasurer for the County’s 4-H Council and dedicated many hours toward modernizing records for the Junior Livestock Auction. When Lonnie passed in 2006, Hans retired from his long career with Kaiser Aerospace & Electronics and immediately knew he had to take on the work Lonnie started. Hans joined the Clover Foundation Board as Treasurer and was first to volunteer for interviewing junior exhibitors for livestock loans.

In 2014 Hans enthusiastically signed on to the newly formed Fairgrounds Heritage Foundation dedicated to preserving and rebuilding the Fairgrounds for the future of our community. He has served as 4-H Emerald Star Advisor and County Ranch Advisor. He also served as the ranch manager at McClellan ranch where he is still a frequent workday volunteer. He’s claimed the nickname “Master Rat Killer,” using his love of experiments to devise new and improved ways to keep pesky vermin out of the livestock feed. In October 2017, the Tubbs Fire raged in Sonoma for 3 weeks and Hans instantly jumped in to help, spending day after day at our own Fairgrounds collecting large donations for displaced pets and over 300 horses temporarily housed at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. He was even interviewed on the KTVU News -Go Hans! A Master Volunteer is always looking for new ways to help out the community, and this continued throughout 2020 and 2021. As the Covid Pandemic began to hit, Hans found a local teen making face shields in a NextDoor video and recruited him to join forces with 4-H volunteers.

Together they built and donated hundreds of protective shields throughout the county, including to the Indian Health Center serving local Native Americans. Hans loves to pay it forward through his philanthropic contributions and always keeps a full freezer of delicious meat from the Junior Livestock Auction.

 

JOHN HAGGERTY

John Haggerty was a proud and devoted 4-H volunteer, supporter of youth agricultural programs and a staunch supporter and volunteer of the Santa Clara County Fair for over 30 years. John’s path to volunteerism at the fair and with youth agricultural programs began when he enrolled his five children in 4-H. He supported his children showing small and large animals, as well as other exhibitors each year at the fair. Not only did his children fall in love with 4-H and the Fair, but he did too. Over the years, the Fair went from being a two-week affair to a short four-day Fair, as it exists today. John worried about what would happen to 4-H and FFA youth if there was no Fair.

Where would they show their animals? Where would they display their exhibits? In order to protect the continued existence of 4-H and FFA livestock projects in this county, John believed he would need to help save the Fair and protect the Fairgrounds from land developers. On his quest to ensure everyone could continue to enjoy the Fair, as he and his family had, John attended countless meetings at the County Board of Supervisors and fairgrounds planning meetings, wrote letters to elected officials, joined the Fair Management Corporation (FMC) Board and became a member of the Clover Foundation board. John became a fixture at the Fair. He could always be found supporting the youth at the auction, and for over a decade, he managed the Small Animal Barn. John was very proud of this barn, as well as the youth and adult volunteer who spend many hours to ensure a safe experience for the youth and an educational experience for the public.

John worked very hard to make sure the youth in Santa Clara County had the opportunity to learn life skills and experience agricultural endeavors, regardless of whether they reside in the county or in the city. Through his participation on the Clover Foundation board, he helped provide significant financial support to both 4-H and FFA programs at the Fair.

Much of his time and energy was devoted to making their fair possible each year. Although he will be dearly missed, his legacy will live on here during the Fair each year.

BILL DABEL

Bill Dabel, may hold the record for having attended most, if not all, of the past 75+ Fairs. Bill began exhibiting and volunteering at the Santa Clara County Fair in 1952 at age 5, as a member of the Evergreen 4-H club when he submitted his first entry of fruit.

Bill’s mom, Martha Lee, began her volunteering on the Amateur Cut Flowers and Gardens committee in 1969 then became Floriculture Chair when Eleanor Vennum retired. Martha was on the Board of Directors from the mid 1970’s – 1997. Henry Gerdts, his cousin, was active with the fair planning beginning in 1948. Henry served as a Fair Director for the Santa Clara County Fair in 1955 to mid 1980’s. So, it was no surprise when he wanted to become more involved himself. He first began volunteering more than 60 years ago when he led an antique engine and tractor show. Originally located in the Fair Family Park, where very few people came by to see them, he convinced the planning committee to move the engines and tractors to an area along side of the sheep and swine building, where they were smothered in Fair Goers. Bill followed in his mother’s footsteps helping in the Floriculture Department. In 1988, Bill was Co-Chair of the Dish Garden committee. Later he became chair of the Floriculture Department and then, with declining exhibits, took over the Agriculture/Horticulture Department as well. Throughout the years this kindhearted, the gentle giant could be found somewhere between the Home Arts building and Floriculture buildings, and now is a beloved Heritage Ambassador at the Fairgrounds Heritage Exhibit.

Bill’s love for the Fair and many years of volunteering created him one of the most incredible collections of “Fair Swag” from years past. Each year Bill would set up display cases in the Home Arts building to show off some of these historic gems, for us all reminisce about. His collection consists of items from the small pins to much larger items including the original plans for the Grandstands and Expo Hall. There are plywood cut-outs of the Happy Farmer and several other cut-outs, to programs from the 50’s and 60’s, Premium Entry books from the 70’s, 80’s and beyond, too many buttons, pins, tickets, coffee mugs, photos, the Cheerie Farmer’s Daughter in a glass bottle and sooo much more. Many of these items can still be seen each year is the Fairgrounds Heritage Foundation Display and if you’re lucky you may even catch Bill there himself.

Fair Poster Contest

Poster Due By May 15, 2024

In celebration of the 80th year of the Santa Clara County Fair, we’re thrilled to announce a unique opportunity for young artists to create a commemorative fair poster. The Santa Clara County Fair has a rich history, dating back to its establishment in 1941.

In this competition, we are looking for young artists to channel their creative talents to illustrate how the Silicon Valley has evolved over the years, transitioning ‘From the Fields’ to the transformation of a tech-based landscape ‘The Future’. Let your artistic vision capture the essence of this journey as we celebrate the 2024 Santa Clara County Fair.

Please note that we only accept hand-drawn illustrations for this competition. Works created with any form of artificial intelligence assistance, whether partial or total, will not be considered. Let your imagination and skill shine through your traditional artistic expression. Good luck!