As far as acts go, Pasquinelli & Leno may not have the cache of Seigfried & Roy, Abbott & Costello or Bonnie & Clyde, but the duo is sure to bring down the house at the Award of Honor Dinner during the 89th Annual Meeting of Western Growers at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nov. 2-5.
The event is only one of a handful of activities that will make this iteration of the WG Annual Meeting a can’t-miss event. Attendees can pick from a plethora of workshops covering water, health care, finances and compensation trends. They can line up a tee shot for a chance at instantly winning $1 million during the golf tourney and attend a demonstration by one of America’s hottest young chefs. The Suppliers’ Party will be held at the upscale and well-known Hyde nightclub at the host hotel. Fireworks are sure to be noted during the Political Action Committee lunch when a pair of columnists from different perspectives discuss immigration reform.
The following is a thumbnail sketch of the three-day event.
Sunday, November 2
The Registration Desk will be open most of the day as attendees travel from throughout the country to come to the nation’s top entertainment venue. The Welcome Reception will be held on the Grand Patio of the luxurious Bellagio Hotel and Resort.
Monday, November 3
The first full day of the Annual Meeting has a full schedule with two workshops, the PAC Luncheon and the always-popular Suppliers’ Event. Both the WG Board of Directors meeting and the Top Chef workshop will be held Monday morning.
Chef Louis Maldonado, who was one of the four finalists in Bravo’s Top Chef competition this year, will delight the audience with his take on healthy cooking. Using fruits and vegetables as his tools, he will create some amazing and healthy dishes.
Syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette and author/writer/blogger Michelle Malkin of Fox News fame will square off during the Political Action Committee breakfast discussing the many areas in which they disagree. They look at the world a bit differently and will explore some political themes during this fundraiser.
After lunch, Frank Wagner, who is Google’s director of compensation, will share a workshop podium with WG’s own Karen Timmins to discuss a number of important human resource questions, such as how do you make sure you are paying employees properly. Wagner knows a little bit about employee relations as Google has thousands upon thousands of employees in multiple locations. The company receives more than 1,000 employment applications per day. The two experts will also discuss the compensation survey Western Growers conducts for the produce industry.
As mentioned, the Hyde Nightclub will serve as the venue for the Suppliers’ Party. The Western Growers group has secured the entire space for its event. This ultra-upscale club is considered one of the premier nightclubs in all of Vegas. This event typically is the most well-attended and top networking event of the Annual Meeting.
Tuesday, November 4
Though Monday was seemingly packed with activities, there is no letdown on Tuesday. The day will begin with the third workshop and the descriptive title of “The Ebb and Flow of Water & Cash: Challenges Facing Our Industry.”
Water issues, the drought, California’s water bond and how financial concerns interact with these topics will be up for discussion. The panelists include Chuck Collum of the Central Arizona Project, Tim Quinn of the Association of California Water Agencies, and Vernon Crowder of Rabobank.
Next on the agenda will be the Major Lunch featuring WG Chairman Bruce Taylor’s take on his year in office. It has been an interesting year with the continued drought, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and an unsettled world with conflicts arising in many different hot spots. Through it all, the U.S. economy has grown and the fresh produce industry is at the forefront of a sea change in healthy eating trends.
The ACA, as well as health and wellness, will be the focus of the afternoon workshop on this day. The WG’s David Zanze will join Dr. Tim Moore of WebMD and Dr. Laura Clapper of Anthem Blue Cross to discuss health insurance, health care and wellness issues. How do you keep your costs down in the current environment? Come to the workshop to find out!
As alluded to in the headline of this story, the WG Award of Honor Dinner on Tuesday night is sure to be one of the top events of this year’s Annual Meeting. Longtime industry stalwart Gary Pasquinelli will be honored with the prestigious award. Pasquinelli has been farming the fertile fields around Yuma, AZ, for decades and has served Western Growers and the industry admirably during that time. He has been a quality grower and individual throughout his career, and is known to be one of the industry’s best employers.
But on this evening he is going to share the limelight with Jay Leno, a true superstar in his own industry of entertainment. Leno needs no introduction and is sure to regale the crowd with his deft humor and common-man take on the events of his time.
The Award of Honor will be preceded by another great networking opportunity as attendees mingle during the Chairman’s Reception featuring fine hors d’ouevres and cocktails.
Wednesday, November 5
Though it is hard to believe, Western Growers is going to conclude its Annual Meeting on another high note with a unique $1 million hole-in-one contest during its Rabobank-sponsored Men’s & Women’s Shotgun Golf Tournament. The hole-in-one contest, sponsored by Taylor Farms, will give each registered player an opportunity to shoot a hole-in-one on a 165-yard par 3 on the beautiful TPC Las Vegas golf course. If that task is accomplished, the player who hits the perfect shot will walk away with $1 million. Golf pros from Yuma to Salinas have noted a run on mid-iron lessons since the news surfaced.
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