Several individuals and businesses got their due Thursday night at the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce’s “Goleta’s Finest” dinner and community awards ceremony at Bacara Resort & Spa.

Members of Goleta’s tight-knit business community gathered to honor the cream of the crop — people who have excelled in their efforts to flourish in Goleta, and in doing so, also give back and inspire others to do the same.

“We’re here to celebrate the individuals and businesses who have contributed to the community, and ultimately to all of our quality of life,” Mayor Eric Onnen said. “By allowing us to recognize you tonight, you are uplifting all of the rest of us.”

A light buffet dinner and wine served as fare for the evening, the first after particularly sketchy financial times forced the cancellation of the annual event last year.

“It feels great to bring the event back,” said Kristin Amyx, president of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce. “It really represents Goleta’s unique sense of pride and volunteerism.”

“It’s nice to see people who aren’t looking for recognition, get recognition,” GVCC board chairman Steve Greig said.

Thursday night’s honorees were given such accolades as Entrepreneur of the Year, Student of the Year, Small Business of the Year and, most importantly, Man and Woman of the Year.

Longtime Goleta couple Bill and Sylvia Redding were named Man and Woman of the Year.

East Coast transplants, the Reddings moved to Goleta during the 1960s, a time when the defense industry and rocket technology were growing and space exploration was just beginning. In their half-century in Goleta, the couple have been involved in nearly too many clubs and service groups to mention, often rising to leadership positions.

“I don’t know how much longer we’re going to be doing this,” Bill Redding quipped. “But we’re going to go for as long as we can.”

The youngest award recipient was San Marcos High School senior Guadalupe “Lupita” Pina. The daughter of Mexican immigrant parents was honored for her continued volunteerism in school.

The Volunteer of the Year award went to Retta Slay, founder of the Dos Pueblos Little League Challengers baseball organization, a group of 300 strong who give young special-needs children the opportunity to play baseball in an encouraging environment.

Goleta Union School District Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Boomer was named Educator of the Year for her successful efforts to maintain quality education in the face of the worst economy since the Great Depression and despite California’s particularly poor finances.

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County took honors for Nonprofit of the Year for its major work and networking to feed the hungry.

The Large Business of the Year award went to Deckers Outdoor Corp., a company founded in 1973 and went from making the rugged flip flop to becoming the manufacturer of major brands including Teva, Simple and UGG. The Goleta headquarters employ a quarter of the company’s 1,000 employees worldwide.

This year’s Small Business of the Year is the Marmalade Cafe, whose general manager, Boston native Warren Butler, said: “Whatever I give back I believe I owe” to the Goleta community.

Latitude 34 Technologies president and founder Paul Avolio accepted the award for Entrepreneur of the Year, honoring the tech company’s notable customer service.

Thursday night’s ceremony was sponsored by a variety of local businesses, including Allied Waste Services, MarBorg Industries, Community West Bank, ATK Space Systems, Sansum Clinic, UCSB, the Santa Barbara Airport, Noozhawk and Pacific Coast Business Times.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.