Rod Byers of Grass Valley has been named the 2016 Blue Ribbon Award recipient by the Nevada County Fairgrounds Board of Directors. The award was created by Western Fairs Association (WFA), a nonprofit trade association serving the Fair industry, to recognize those who support and contribute to the quality of their local Fair. Rod is recognized for his efforts in coordinating a successful wine competition at the Fair each year, and for his many years of service to the Nevada County Fair.
Rod’s involvement with the Fair began in 1983 when he started a commercial wine competition. In 1984, he shifted from that competition to a competition for local home winemakers, which focused on local grapes, wines, and people. Rod continues today as the supervisor of the Fair’s Wine Competition, overseeing all aspects of the competition, including the judging and approaching local wineries to sponsor the various divisions.
“We never tried to grow it to be the biggest competition, just the best,” said Rod. “I always try to run the competition with the entrant in mind – to give them the best possible feedback on their wines from a qualified, professional panel of judges.”
Rod and his wife, Melanie, have been married for 42 years and own Pine Hill Wine Works. He worked with Nevada City Winery for over 30 years, and now considers himself in the information and education side of the business. He teaches wine classes, writes a wine column for The Union, and has a TV show on local public access TV.
“Rod is kind enough to share his expertise with us at the Fair,” said Diane Hawkeswood, the Fair’s Exhibit Representative who has been working with Rod for more than 20 years. “We firmly believe that without his kindness, we would not be able to offer the wine competition to our exhibitors. We are so thankful for his dedication to the Fair and wine industry.”
“I am immensely honored to win the Blue Ribbon Award,” said Rod. “When I look around and see what some people do for the community, I don’t really believe I deserve any special recognition, but I sure appreciate getting it. Really, all we were doing was having a little bit of fun all those years.”
Rod will be recognized at Opening Day Ceremony of the Fair on August 10. The 2016 Nevada County Fair is August 10 – 14.