The California Mid-State Fair is raising money to carry on the legacy of a beloved Paso Robles rancher and agriculture supporter who died suddenly this summer.
Hugh Pitts Jr. — who was honored in 2016 as the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce’s Roblan of the Year — died at age 60 of a heart attack on June 27.
Now, the fair and the Heritage Foundation, which supports 4-H and FFA activities at the fair, are collecting funds to go toward a memorial project at the Paso Robles Event Center.
Donors began pledging money July 28 during the fair’s Junior Livestock Auction, where Pitts bought many animals over the years, said Michael Bradley, the fair’s CEO.
The fundraiser took in $221,530 in pledges from 110 donors, with the largest coming from the James W. Brabeck Youth Legacy Fund.
“He was an extraordinary person,” Bradley said. “So humble and important to the community.”
Pitts was an Adelaida cattle rancher and broker associate for RE/MAX Parkside Real Estate known for organizing many agriculture-related events, especially in the North County.
Elissa Williams, a RE/MAX broker manager, worked with Pitts and nominated him for the Roblan of the Year award. She described him as a dependable, generous man and a good cook known for his barbecuing skills.
“He just left such a big hole,” Williams said. “Not only for our office, but for the whole community.”
Pitts had an extensive record of community service. He served as a board member for the San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau and the Mid-State Fair’s Heritage Foundation and helped put together an annual Crab Feed to raise scholarship money for young people who showed animals at the fair.
In honor of his efforts, the Mid-State Fair recognized Pitts as Agriculturalist of the Year in 2016.
Bradley said the all the money raised will go toward a project worthy of Pitts and his memory.
“The eventual outcome will be a great tribute to a great man,” Bradley said.
A memorial service for Pitts will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Paso Pavilion at the Paso Robles Event Center.
To donate to the Hugh Pitts Capital Campaign Fundraiser, visit the Heritage Foundation website at thecmsfheritagefoundation.org.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the James W. Brabeck Youth Legacy Fund.