June 24, 2022 Don Diego Gala Was “The Center” of Attention at the Fair

Guests at Don Diego Scholarship Foundation’s June 24, 2022 “Reunite & Celebrate” Gala and Sam Hunt Concert at the San Diego County Fair were the very first event-goers to enjoy “The Center” at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Although the venue was indoors, the evening’s stars shown brightly as, one by one, Don Diego’s Class of 2022 Scholars sharing a total of $55,000 in college scholarships took to the stage to receive their awards from donors and tell the enthusiastic audience where they were headed: Duke, Purdue, South Dakota State, Cal Poly and UC Davis, among other universities; and their intended careers, including biomed scientist, conservation officer, interior architect, and even Don Diego’s first chef.

Table sponsor Francie Shewmaker and board member Stephen Shewmaker, Silver Sponsors Shari Schenk, Sydney Schenk, and board member Frederick Schenk, board Treasurer George Karetas

Top Scholar Ethan Rockwell, who won three scholarships totaling $11,000, spoke on behalf of his 17 peers as he told 200+ attendees, “We thank the donors so much for this high honor. The money will help immensely and we appreciate your faith in us.”

Before heading to the concert, guests mingled with students, enjoyed a gourmet dinner, and celebrated as presenters shared the incredible 36-year journey of the organization and equally incredible journey of retiring inaugural Executive Director, Chana Mannen. Among the many tributes, she received a proclamation from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors declaring June 24, 2022 “Chana Mannen Day throughout San Diego County.”

To kickstart fundraising for future scholarships, unique items were auctioned off, including autographed guitars by Trace Adkins and Toby Keith, a blue ribbon lamb, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Turf Club memberships, and an AKC English Cream Golden Retriever puppy. The dog was purchased by the Rossi family who, in honor of the scholarships their twin sons Skylar and Carson received, named him Don Diego.

The Class of 2022, front row: Kyra Chen, Darby Gallagher, Madilyn Golden, Rachel Rapue, Julia Bellavance, Anna Sohn, Monica Ferris, Abigail Cotton, Alyssa Arias, Marianne Sadik. Back row: Carson Rossi, Will Warner, Ethan Rockwell, Charles Dilts, Pauldean Gevarges, Skylar Rossi
Not pictured: Amelie Simpson, Keleigh Williamson

Capping off a festive evening after a two-year pandemic-caused hiatus, new Executive Director Ashley Colburn McCaughan thanking Gala guests, saying, “Your presence tonight and your ongoing contributions have enabled Don Diego to continue providing transformative scholarships and agriculture education opportunities to so many people, including myself, a 2005 scholarship recipient. We have much to celebrate as we look back and much to anticipate as we look ahead.”

Photos from the 2022 Dinner & Concert Gala!

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Join Us at the Gala & Alabama Concert

Seating is limited so reserve your seats today!
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Join Us for a Festive 2023 Don Diego Gala!

Guests attending Don Diego Scholarship Foundation’s exclusive Gala and Alabama Concert on Saturday, July 1, 2023 at the San Diego County Fair will savor country comforts and southern delights in the Del Mar Fairgrounds’ famed Turf Club.

Gala-goers enjoy preferred parking, hosted bar, gourmet southern cuisine, and a celebratory program; all culminating in VIP Grandstand seating for the legendary musical group Alabama.

The Gala will feature Don Diego’s 2023 college scholarship recipients, who will mingle with guests and donors, receive recognition for their achievements, and help auction off unique items.

Don Diego Chairman Stephen Shewmaker states, “We are excited to share this special evening with our supportive Don Diego community. We encourage people to buy tickets before the event sells out.”

Gala Schedule

Suggested Attire: Country Western

4:30PM Gala Reception: Hosted Bar
6:00PM Dinner; Presentation of Class of 2023 Scholars; Live Auction, honoring former auctioneer and board member, Frederick Schenk
7:30PM VIP Stagefront Seating, Corona Grandstand Concert: Alabama

Gala Chair

Joe Harper

Your Generous Support Benefits Don Diego Scholarship Foundation’s Scholarships and Programs

Each Gala Ticket Purchased Includes:

  • Preferred Parking (all day)

  • Fair Admission

  • Gala Reception & Dinner

  • Gala Program

  • Alabama Concert (additional charge)

Your Ticket Purchase Is A Donation

to Don Diego Scholarship Foundation. Since its inception in 1986, the Foundation has awarded $1,338,844 in scholarships to 383 outstanding, deserving students who are associated with activities at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, including the San Diego County Fair.


Gala & Concert Tickets

Individual ticket(s). Tables seat 8.


Gala Only Tickets

Individual ticket(s). Tables seat 8.


Student Sponsorship

Sponsor a student to attend the Gala.

Become a Gala Sponsor

Sponsors receive Gala tickets, special recognition and the gratification of knowing they are helping deserving students pursue their college and career goals.

I cannot attend.

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Meet Our 2023 Scholarship Recipients!

Board of Directors

Steve Shewmaker, Chairman

Glenn Drown, Vice Chairman

Alysha Stehly, Treasurer

D Prestininzi, Secretary

Lisa Barkett
Alyson Connelly
Sandra DiCicco
Jim Edwards
Susan Farrior
Joe Harper
John Hoeflich
George Karetas
Kirby Morrison
Frederick Schenk

Chairs Emeritus

Paul Ecke III
Roxana Foxx
Jon Liss

Gala Chair

Joe Harper

Executive Director

Ashley Colburn McCaughan