Kent Cornucopia Days goes younger with Berrios' as King and Queen

Jim and Suzanne Berrios continue to make an impact in the Kent community as business owners and volunteers. - Courtesy photo/Megan Johnson
Jim and Suzanne Berrios continue to make an impact in the Kent community as business owners and volunteers.
— image credit: Courtesy photo/Megan Johnson

Jim and Suzanne Berrios truly believed they were too young to be named the Kent Cornucopia Days King and Queen for 2014.

"We were very surprised but felt honored," Jim Berrios said during a phone interview last week from a vacation in Michigan. "Typically, they tend to be a little older than us."

The Greater Kent Historical Society (GKHS) decided to mix things up this year and go younger. Jim is 55 years old, Suzanne, 51. The group also wanted to honor a couple heavily involved in the historical society.

"Because they've been longtime members of GKHS and support our annual auction," board member Cheri Sayler said about why the Berrios' were picked. "They haven't been residents as long as other couples but we're trying to find couples who are supportive of GKHS. They're not as old as usual and have not lived in Kent as long but we're trying to reach a younger audience. We're trying to get younger people involved in GKHS."

The Berrioses, who own the Golden Steer Steak 'n Rib House on the East Hill, became involved with the historical society 14 years ago at its first annual dinner and auction to raise funds for the group. The restaurant caters the event and Jim Berrios came up with the idea to have city officials and department leaders be servers.

The annual Kent Cornucopia Days are a large part of the city each summer as vendors display their goods and performers hit the stage on the closed off downtown streets during the street fair.

"We go to it every year," Berrios said. "It's good for a community to have that type of an event that brings the community together. Police and fire are there and various organizations showcase what they do and there's activities for kids. It brings together who we are as Americans. Festivals help us come together and share."

As far as Jim Berrios knows, their only duty as King and Queen means participating the Sunday parade at 2 p.m. along Fourth Avenue.

"We ride in a car and wave at everybody," he said.

Jim Berrios pops up all over town and in the newspaper as the Golden Steer last month celebrated its 50th anniversary; he's in his first term on the Kent City Council; serves on the Kent Chamber of Commerce board and is a former Kent School Board member.

The couple moved to Kent in 1993 from Texas because of a job promotion when Jim Berrios worked for the Denny's restaurant chain. His job as a divisional manager meant he traveled to several states, so Kent seemed like a good place to settle.

"We heard about the good reputation of the schools, we liked the small-town feel of Kent and we were really impressed with the parks system," Jim Berrios said. "It was centrally located between Seattle and Tacoma and I traveled a lot so it was close to the airport."

All three of their children attended Kent schools. Mike, 31, lives in Kent and works as a medical assistant. Joshua, 28, lives in Auburn and works in federal law enforcement. Krysta, 26, is a teacher in Hawaii.

Historic photos decorate the walls at the Golden Steer, including a shot of Benson Road when it was dirt as opposed to the five-lane commuter route that carries tons of vehicles.

"We're delighted to support (GKHS) because we really believe it's important to preserve the history of your town," Jim Berrios said. "And it's important young people understand how towns evolved into the community they are."

Berrios recommends a tour through the historic Bereiter House on East Smith Street to learn about Kent.

"Those who have not gone through the museum need to take that opportunity," he said. "It's a fascinating history from a farming community to today."


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