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American River Messenger

Honoring the Best of Fair Oaks

Jan 29, 2024 10:41AM ● By Judy Andrews, photos by Michelle Massaro

Long-time chamber members include The Woman's Thursday Club of Fair Oaks and the Fair Oaks Theatre Festival. Both organizations have been members for 40 years. From left to right: Janet McWilliams (Woman's Thursday Club) and Cathy Smallhouse (Fair Oaks Theatre Festival) with Katie Yount and Mary Howard.

FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - It was standing room only at the 8th annual Best of Fair Oaks Gala held on January 18 at North Ridge Country Club. Hosted by the Fair Oaks Chamber of Commerce (FOCC), more than 240 chamber and community members, as well as local dignitaries, turned out to celebrate the 2023 winners.

Rose Erickson, owner of French in the Village, won for Best Boutique and Gift Shop. From left to right: Noah Wright, Katie Yount, Erickson, and Frederick Ha.

The sold-out event was organized and presented by students from the chamber’s Fair Oaks Youth Outreach program. Presenters included Emma Ford, Frederick Ha, Emmy Herrera, Abby Lingenfelter, Roman Schitik, Noah Wright, and there was technical support from Zac Lingenfelter.

Miller's Ace Hardware won for Best Specialty Shop and was also awarded Best Business in Fair Oaks. From left to right: Katie Yount, Abby Lingenfelter, Miller Greenfield, mom Jessica Rowell Greenfield, and Kimberley Pitillo.

FOCC Executive Director Kimberley Pitillo served as the evening’s MC and handed out special chamber awards at the end of the program. “It’s amazing to see all the contenders in the room cheering everyone on! This is what the chamber is all about — supporting our town’s small-business community,” said Pitillo.

FOCC Executive Director Kimberley Pitillo is recognized for her 10 years of service by Assemblyman Josh Hoover.

Voting to determine the winners took place online over a five-week period last fall. Close to 15,000 votes were received and tallied through In total, 427 nominees competed in 76 different categories — the most ever in the program’s eight-year history!

Students from Fair Oaks Youth Outreach organized an outstanding event. Seen here are Emmy Herrera (L) and Abby Lingenfelter (R).

Event highlight

In a surprise presentation on behalf of the chamber’s board of directors, President Mary Howard recognized Pitillo for her exemplary service to the FOCC and to the community for the past 10 years! Adding to the accolades, Assemblyman Josh Hoover presented Pitillo with a legislative resolution from both his office and the office of Senator Roger Niello. This was followed by a presentation from Congressman Ami Bera’s office, and a resolution from Supervisor Rich Desmond’s office.

Best of Fair Oaks winners pose for their photograph at the sold-out event. 

Award highlights
Some notable 2023 new and repeat winners included:

Best Bar/Brew Pub: Fair Oaks Brew Pub
Best Boutique/Gift Shop: French in the Village
Best Coffee Spot: Badfish Coffee & Tea
Best Entertainment: Concerts in the Park
Best Pizza: Del’s Family Pizza
Best Restaurant and Best Taco: Divided Sky Tavern
Best Sports Retailer: Bob’s Cycle Center
Best Veterinarian Services: Old Town Animal Hospital
Best Youth Activities/Sports: Fair Oaks Family Taekwondo

For the eighth year in a row, the Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank won for Best Non-Profit.

Business and community leaders took time to mingle and sample great food and desserts. From left to right: Keith Wright, Sean Palmer, and Tom Struhm.

Special chamber awards
Pitillo presented special chamber awards to six deserving individuals and businesses. These recipients were chosen for their outstanding contributions in the community in 2023:

Business of the Year: Miller’s Ace Hardware
Business Person of the Year: Jen Rodriguez, Skinned & Lashed
Citizen of the Year: Dustin Buck, Buck Wealth Management and Rachel Griffith, realtor Lyon Real Estate
Special Recognition: Noah Wright
Volunteer of the Year: Jeanette Woodward

Divided Sky Tavern took home two awards for Best Restaurant and Best Taco in town. From left to right: Katie Yount, restaurant owner Ian Branning, and Noah Wright

Event sponsors
The Best of Fair Oaks is sponsored by the FOCC, VoterFly, and the American River Messenger. A portion of the proceeds, which also included a raffle and dessert auction, support the Fair Oaks Youth Outreach Scholarship Program.

Thank you to the following organizations for also supporting this special event: Fair Oaks Brew Pub, Jessica Rose Balloons, North Ridge Country Club, St. Mel Catholic Church, and Wolfe Heights Estate Winery.

Congratulations to all 2023 Best of Fair Oaks winners and nominees! For a complete list of winners, please visit or