The 2021 Wharton County Youth Fair has seen its fair share of struggles. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the executive board to limit events, and the heartbreak continued with news of major health concerns to its fair coordinator.
Cindy Blaha, who has played a vital role in the fair’s production for over 20 years, was admitted into a hospital on April 2, 2021, just weeks before the fair was set to kick off.
WCYF President Ed Weinheimer told The County Gin that this year’s fair has been difficult without Cindy’s presence, not only concerning the operations, but with the lingering worry of a friend.
“We all know [Cindy] personally and are her fair family,” Weinheimer said. “To see this happen to her is devastating to us individually and to the fair as a whole.”
Due to the sensitivity of the situation and out of respect for Mrs. Blaha, The Gin will not disclose details about her condition.
Supporting Mrs. Blaha
Concern for the health and well being of Cindy is shared throughout the organization’s board, volunteers and exhibitors.
For Ashlyn Peters, a 7th grade student at El Campo Junior High and WCYF showman, the opportunity to offer more than prayers came when she won the Grand Champion title for her market goat.
While having dinner with her family, Ashlyn and her sister, Hailey, presented the idea of donating all Sale of Excellence proceeds of her goat to the Cindy Blaha Fund.
“I wanted to create a way for everyone to come together and support Mrs. Blaha,” Ashlyn said. “I was blessed this year with two champions — goat and steer, and I thought I would pass that blessing along.”
Ashlyn’s parents, Shawn and Angela Peters, agreed that the idea just felt right.
“The fair is all about supporting the youth. So, we felt it was the right thing to do in supporting those that have given so much to this organization and to the youth for so many years,” Shawn told The Gin.
The family reached out to Weinheimer with the idea and to help the plan become reality.
“We felt touched and overjoyed that they would do this,” Weinheimer said. “What was so overwhelming to me was that a youngster came up with this idea on their own.
“Cindy is one of the most humble persons that I know, and the fair is doing everything to help out her and her family during this time. So, this was great news.”
Weinheimer said he contacted Cindy right after the decision was approved.
“I had the opportunity to speak with Bud and Cindy this morning, and she was in great spirits,” he said. “I told her I had some good news for her and that Lot #1 had been donated to help offset any expenses.”
Speaking to Cindy’s humbleness, Weinheimer said, “Her first comment was, ‘No way. I’m not going to let you take money away from the kids.’”
He continued, “I let her know that the kids know how much she has done for them and what she does for this fair and they wanted to express their love by doing this. She was blown away.”
Faith over prize
The Peters family said their faith led their daughters to make the decision.
“It’s better to give than to receive,” Angela Peters said. “I think this is something that God would want us to do. We are taking our blessing and passing it on to bless a more than deserving person, Mrs. Cindy Blaha.”
Shawn Peters spoke to both of his daughters’ humility and to the pride felt when the idea was presented.
“You talk about pride,” he said. “I am very proud that the kids understand that this is so much bigger than a ribbon at the fair.
“We talk about coming together in unprecedented times, and for our girls to see the bigger picture and were able to process this decision to help others, I couldn’t be any prouder.
“Now, we just need to get people out there to help make a big impact for Cindy.”
Ashlyn’s Grand Champion Market Goat is the first lot to be auctioned off at tomorrow’s WCYF Sale of Excellence, which starts at noon.
Those wishing to contribute to Lot #1 – Grand Champion Market Goat can do so by contacting any fair fund organization, attending the sale, or by contacting the Wharton County Fair Office.
Fair executives have also established an account at the First State Bank of Louise for those wishing to contribute outside of the fair.