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Ambassador Of Santa Maria-Style Barbecue Honored As Elks Top Citizen

Santa Maria lodge recognizes Gerald "Ike" Simas, several high school seniors at annual dinner

Santa Maria Valley high school seniors were recognized by the Santa Maria Elks Lodge on Wednesdya night.
Santa Maria Valley high school seniors were recognized by the Santa Maria Elks Lodge on Wednesdya night. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
The Santa Maria Elks named Gerald ‘Ike’ Simas as Citizen of the Year on Wednesday night, with Past Exalted Rule Dick Parker presenting the award. Click to view larger
The Santa Maria Elks named Gerald ‘Ike’ Simas as Citizen of the Year on Wednesday night, with Past Exalted Rule Dick Parker presenting the award. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A man who has been the ambassador for Santa Maria-style barbecue, appearing in magazine articles, television shows and documentaries, was recognized this week with the Santa Maria Elks Citizen of the Year Award.

The Elks named Gerald “Ike” Simas as the top citizen Wednesday night at the annual dinner where several top high school seniors also were honored. 

Past Exalted Ruler Dick Parker noted that "nothing has put Santa Maria on the map better than Santa Maria-style barbecue and the Santa Maria Elks Lodge.

"Both are recognized nationally as being the very best in their respective categories,” Parker said. “No one has done more to promote these two well-established institutions than the person we are here to honor tonight as citizen of the year.

"This longtime Elks member not only has served his lodge extremely well, but he has been recognized as the face associated with Santa Maria-style barbecue all over the nation," Parker added.

Simas, 89, said many other people deserve the honor. 

“Over the years, all these years, I’ve had such wonderful people that helped me. Great crews. Everything that I’ve done, it’s just because of them. Wonderful, everyone one of them,” he said.

“I’m flabbergasted. I don’t know what to say but thank you very much. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, with tears in my eyes and love in my heart, thank you,” Simas added. 

Councilman Bob Orach recalled Simas and his team attending the All-America City Award function in Mobile, Alabama, in 1998, serving up Santa Maria-style barbecue.

“They took the pit, they took the wood, they took the meat, they took everything,” Orach said. “And you know what, people there were just blown away with what Santa Maria had to offer versus whatever they had back East. It was Ike that helped us bring back the All-America City Award.” 

A Santa Maria native, the youngest of seven brothers went on to be a member of the Santa Maria Indians baseball team.

He joined the Elks Lodge 63 years ago, and was club manager for nine years. He was previously named Elk of the Year in 2007. Even today, Simas still leads a barbecue team.

Simas is responsible for thousands of people tasting Santa Maria-style barbecue, Parker said.

“The local, state and national media recognize Ike as an authority regarding Santa Maria-style barbecue, and since the Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce copyrighted the iconic meal...Ike has been sought after by countless as a definitive source for their content.

Simas has appeared in a documentary about the “history and mystique” of Santa Maria-style barbecue. 

“With all the attention garnered by Santa Maria-style barbecue in the media, there’s always been one constant when Ike is being interviewed. He never fails to include mention of participation and constant contribution by Santa Maria Elks Lodge Number 1538 in the growth and legend that it is Santa Maria-style barbecue. And for that, we should be all proud.”

Simas was born the same year as the Santa Maria Elks Lodge formed in 1927, Parker noted.

“Is that a good choice or what?” Parker asked the crowd. 

Also Wednesday night, a pair of Righetti High School students, Jayla Romain and Zachary Burg, were named Elks Students of Year. 

“There’s nothing more important to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks than the youth of our country,” Parker said. "Tonight, it is our honor to pay special tribute to some of the very best young people our community has to offer."

Additionally, the Elks revealed a new award this year, hosted by the Past Exalted Rulers group to recognize a Delta High School student. The first recipient, who received $500, was Jose Hernandez Baeza.

The students of the month recognized were Alyssa Hobbs, Reed Carbone, Anita Oman, Bradley Mason and Ronica Patel and Austin Ryver, all from Orcutt Academy High School; Remegic Nacar, and Milanpreet Singh, both from Santa Maria High School; Maribel Orozco and Kevin Cruden, St. Joseph High School; Juan De Nova, Pioneer Valley High School and Hailee Silva, Righetti High School.

Elks National Foundation Scholarship recipients also were announced, with first place going to Andrew Myers from St. Joseph High and Jayla Romain from Righetti High.

Second place went to Manuel Rolon-Osuna from Pioneer Valley High School and Krista Cano from Pioneer Valley High.

Third place went to Michael Maestas from St. Joseph High and Sierra Martinez from Orcutt Academy.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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