Viva Fresh Open Golf Tournament to Raise Money for Scholarships

Mission, Texas; The Texas International Produce Association is proud to announce that this year’s Viva Fresh Open charity golf tournament will posthumously honor Ken Martin, founder of Rio Queen Citrus. The Ken Martin Viva Fresh Open will be held over two consecutive days on Thursday afternoon April 21st and Friday morning April 22nd at Cowboys Golf Club, adjacent to the Gaylord Texan Resort. 

Ken Martin spent most of his career farming in Texas and founded one of the largest citrus and onion grower-shippers in the Rio Grande Valley. He was an early proponent of the now famous Rio Star Grapefruit. Throughout his career, he served on numerous industry committees and boards. He passed away on August 7, 2019, and the regional industry mourned the loss of the great leader.

“Our industry is fortunate to be rich with icons, like Ken Martin, who have blazed paths for the rest of us to follow. Aside from his success in business, Ken was a charismatic individual with a passion for agriculture,” remarked Ed Bertaud, director of retail sales for IFCO and golf tournament chair. “It has been our hope and intent to honor Ken since 2019 but with the COVID-19 cancellation of Viva Fresh in 2020, it was not possible.” stated Bertaud. “This year, we are back again and ready to celebrate the life of one of our own through this event, something I am very confident Ken himself would have loved.”

The Ken Martin Viva Fresh Open charity golf event, presented by BEBO Distributing, Inc. and Wonderful Citrus, will raise funds for an industry scholarship program open to employees and their respective family, of TIPA-member companies.  The goal of the scholarship program is to provide funding for students pursuing any educational opportunities related to any field of the fresh produce supply chain. This includes not only four-year degree tracks but also technical and certification educational tracks. Thanks to funds raised from previous Viva Fresh Open events, 13 scholarships have already been awarded. 

Craig Slate, president/CEO of SunFed and golf tournament vice chair noted, “The yearly Viva Fresh Open is an opportunity to provide memorial recognition while raising funds to support what we hope will be the next generation of produce professionals.” Slate continued, “It’s always difficult to lose a friend and industry icon but we hope that each year we can remember and celebrate those individuals who have had a major impact in our region. Ken without a doubt had a major impact in South Texas, the produce industry, and me. I’m grateful that Ken was chosen as this year’s honoree.”

At the conclusion of the Thursday golf tournament all Viva Fresh attendees are invited to enjoy food, beverages, music and good old fashioned Texas hospitality at the 19th Hole Celebration, hosted at the Texan Station inside the Gaylord Hotel from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (non-golfers are welcome for a small fee payable during online registration). It will also serve as a pregame celebration for those teeing off on Friday morning.

Registration for this year’s Viva Fresh Expo and Open is now live and spots are limited. For more information or to register, 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

About the Texas International Produce Association

Founded in 1942, the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) promotes, advocates, educates and represents the nearly $8 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.