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Viva Fresh Golf Open honors long-time TIPA employee

Viva Fresh Golf Open; winery tour registration now open

Viva Fresh Open to honor long-time TIPA employee Gracie Gonzalez, also raises funds for Viva Fresh Foundation’s mission & scholarships

MISSION, Texas – The 8th Annual Viva Fresh Open, presented by BEBO Distributing, Inc. and H-E-B tees off for another year on March 30th. This year’s tournament promises the top-notch experience Viva Fresh is known for: a stellar course, the same great networking and the ability to back a great cause by raising funds to support the Viva Fresh mission of increasing the awareness of the health benefits of fruits and vegetables produced in the Tex-Mex corridor.

The 2023 Viva Fresh Open will feature two rounds of golf kicking off the 2023 Viva Fresh Expo on March 30th: shotgun starts will be at 7:30 AM and 1:30 PM at Cowboys Golf Club, adjacent to the Gaylord Texan Resort.

The event has always posthumously recognized a dedicated Texas industry peer and this year will honor Ms. Gracie Gonzalez, longtime employee of the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) BB #:162361 team, who passed away unexpectedly in 2020. Since the 1990s, Gracie worked with the South Texas Onion and Melon Committee, Texas Produce Association, (later TIPA), and Texas Citrus Mutual.  

If you attended an event, visited the office or called the organization you likely saw her smiling face or heard her happy voice. Her kindness, love and patience extended to every single member of our industry and her presence and hard work were part of the behind-the-scenes effort that helped craft the association we know today.

As industry members spoke about Gracie, it was clear she left an unfillable void for all those who worked with her and loved her.

The TIPA team is so very grateful to Gracie Gonzalez for her efforts and contributions to our many activities, meetings and events. She led by example, and always had a smile on her face,” remarked Dante Galeazzi, president and CEO of TIPA, “Her passing was a grave loss to our organization and the industry. Her passion for produce and immense positive energy was infectious. It is with great honor that we celebrate the life of one of our very own through this event, something I know Gracie herself would have been humbled by.”

Former TIPA president & CEO Bret Erickson said, “Gracie was an angel on this earth long before she went to be an angel in Heaven.  I had the sheer joy of getting to know Gracie and her family during my time at Texas Citrus Mutual and TIPA.  Seldom in this life have I met someone with such class, grace, and kindness.  Gracie was a beacon of light wherever she went, she exuded pure love, every single day, and was so incredibly dedicated to God, her family, her friends and colleagues.  It is an honor to be able to recognize and acknowledge Gracie’s life through this prestigious Texas produce event.”

One of the most rewarding results of the Viva Fresh Open is the charitable aspect that helps raise funds to support scholarships and programming that promote the education and health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables from the Tex-Mex corridor. A portion of this year’s funds will be presented in conjunction with Texas State University to the Hays County Juvenile Detention Center in San Marcos, TX to develop an in-house garden.

Ed Bertaud, director of retail sales for IFCO, Viva Fresh Expo steering committee member and tournament chair noted, “We’ve been fortunate to support a variety of charitable projects and dozens of industry scholarships, but this year’s donation strikes a new chord by addressing a long-underserved audience.”

Bertaud continued, “the Hays County Juvenile Detention Center serves nearly 150 youth, age 13-16 in three to six month programs addressing substance abuse and mental health programs. We have long known the power of healthy eating in changing lifestyles and building better habits. I think this is a positive step forward that recognizes every person can eat well and be better.”

As an alternative to the annual golf outing, the second annual Viva Fresh Winery Tour in nearby downtown Grapevine returns on March 30 from 12 pm to 4:30 pm. The tour will consist of three wine tasting stops in downtown Grapevine from local-area wineries: Farina’s Winery, Cross Timbers and Delaney Vineyards.

Sponsored by SunFed, tickets are now available ($180) and can be added while registering for the show or by contacting TIPA at 956.581.8632. Spots are limited and will sell out fast.

For more information, please contact the Texas International Produce Association at or call (956) 581-8632.

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About the Viva Fresh Produce Expo

The Viva Fresh Produce Expo was established in 2015 by the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) to create meaningful networking and educational opportunities for its members while shining a light on the importance of the Rio Grande Valley as an emerging trade corridor and production zone for healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables available all year long. For more information, please visit

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About the Texas International Produce Association

Founded in 1942, the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) promotes, advocates, educates and represents the nearly $11 billion in fresh produce that is either grown in the state or calls Texas the first point of US-arrival for North American distribution. For more information about TIPA, visit or call 956-581-8632.