Barsottis to be crowned Old Timers’ royalty
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Jon and Donna Barsotti have been chosen to be the 2021 Old Timers Day king & queen.
The Madera County Historical Society has announced the selection of Jon and Donna Barsotti as its Old Timers’ Day King and Queen.
Longtime Madera residents, Jon was born in Madera in 1945 and the former Donna Bridges came to Madera from Galt at the age of 13.
“My father was a land leveler,” she said.
This meant the family moved around following her dad’s jobs. When she was 13, her mother bought a house in Madera and that became the family’s base of operation.
“My mom said Madera seemed like a nice place to raise her family,” she said.
The couple first saw each other while attending drag races at the Madera Airport. The next time the couple crossed paths was at the Madera Fair. A friend told Jon the girl he saw at the drag race was going to be at the fair, and they were going.
Jon and Donna were married on June 11, 1966, the day after Donna graduated from Madera Union High School. This year, they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. Her class was the last one to graduate before the Madera Unified School District was formed.
Jon is the son of Roy and Lula “Hefner,” Barsotti. He had two siblings, his late brother, Christopher Barsotti, and sister, Nella, and her husband Jim Milam. Donna is the youngest of eight children born to Lon and Ena Bridges.
Donna retired after working 30 years as a teacher’s assistant and resource aide at James Monroe Elementary School. Jon worked for 29-and-a-half years at Food Machinery Corporation (FMC), now JBT Corp. in Madera and is still called in as a consultant. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Jon had worked for the Madera Community Hospital League of Volunteers, beginning in 2010.
Lifelong members of St. Joachim Catholic Church, Jon works at the Holy Family Table soup kitchen twice a week.
The couple have three children — Robert Wayne Barsotti, Suzanne Michele Brown and Christopher Shore. They adore spending time with their grandchildren.
Robert and his wife Michele have three children — daughter Katie and her husband Coty Recek and their daughter Addie, and two sons, Daniel Wayne and Michael Christopher Barsotti.
Their daughter, Suzanne, and her husband David Brown live in Denver and have three children — Allison, Peter and Jonathan.
Their late son Christopher Shore and his wife Melissa have two children, Jesse and Stephanie. Their great-grandchildren are Mia, Sofia and Dexter.
Jon’s paternal grandfather, Nello Barsotti, served as the Old Timer’s Day Grand Marshall in 1957. He was also an active member of the Rotary Club.
Nello and his brother Albert owned a bakery until 1956. They would use their bread ovens to cook Thanksgiving turkeys and Easter Hams for their customers at no charge. They eventually sold their bakery to the Rainbo Bread company, said Jon.
A collection of family mementos was recently passed on to Jon and Donna when his aunt, Gloria Massetti, died at age 99. One item was an old roll of wax paper with colorful Kiddie Toast graphics on it that came from his grandfather Nello’s bakery. Additionally, his cousins Janet and Carol Massetti gave him the plaque presented to his grandfather Nello when he was Grand Marshal of the parade and other interesting family keepsakes.
While never involved in city politics like his grandfather, Jon served as President of the Madera Downtown Association three times. Under his leadership, with the assistance of other downtown merchants such as Rochelle Noblett of Pete’s Sport Shop and Steve Copland of Seabury, Copland & Anderson Insurance, the Tractor Parade of Lights was conceived and executed.
“The first year we had 16 entrants and I was doing the announcing,” Jon said. “I told people to hang around because the parade was going to take a second lap down Yosemite Avenue.”
The downtown association also hosted a farmer’s market event on Thursday evenings for a few years.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s tractor parade was, like so many things, cancelled. The downtown association has hopes to revive the event again this year, he said.
The Old Timers’ Day parade will take place starting at 10 a.m. September 25 from Lake Street heading West to Gateway Drive. It will be followed by a celebration in Courthouse Park with food booths and other entertainment activities.
Look for Jon and Donna along the parade route in a stagecoach with many of their kids and grandkids along for the ride.
Grand Marshal for this year’s parade is Steve Copland.