Cool morning air, longer days, blooming wildflowers, and scattered showers signal the start of Spring, but for Wharton County, it means the Wharton County Youth Fair (WCYF) draws near.
It all started in 1976 when a group of volunteers set out to create a way to educate and reward ag students, while providing entertainment and fun for the county.
The organization has since awarded over $27 million to Wharton County students.
This year’s press meeting— a meeting where fair leaders and directors disclose the calendar of events, additions and attractions to local media channels, was held on Thursday, March 24.
What normally consists of about 12 attendees and a rather short agenda, was upgraded to the director’s room packed with sponsors, fair directors and staff, wonderfully prepared food and refreshing beverages.
WCYF President Ed Weinheimer of Hillje opened the meeting by explaining the change. “This year we decided to have a Sponsorship Appreciation Day to show our gratitude for everyone that contributes to the fair.”
Weinheimer continued to explain why the evening needed to be.
“We’re coming back from what were some pretty rough years for the fair,” he said. “We are one of the few fairs in the state that still own our fairgrounds. Most have sold out to the counties and cities.”
He continued speaking to the sponsors, “We still stand on our own out here and we would not be here without you.”
The WCYF faced many challenges over the past few years with the pandemic and extreme and unusual weather events.
But through it all, with the assistance of volunteers and sponsors, the fairgrounds have overcome the issues the aging buildings and mother nature has thrown their way.
After finishing the meal, Weinheimer asked the mic be passed from seat to seat, and those willing speak on what the fair means to them.
The directors were also asked to speak a little on the events they were planning.
With each pass of the microphone, it became abundantly clear the WCYF holds a special place in everyone’s heart.
Though transcribing each testimony would create pages upon pages of heartfelt sentiments, each held true to the WCYF mission.
“We do it for the kids,” rang through the halls.
Some began their volunteerism because their children reached participation age. Others because they had grown up through the fair and wanted to assist passing on the legacy and memory of WCYF.
“Bringing Back The Fun,” was chosen as this year’s slogan, and what a better way to move on and from a pandemic which heavily limited the fair’s events.
While livestock shows remained last year, the show-and-go limitations took out ‘the fun’ of making new friends and enjoying the entertainment of the fair.
The return of the carnival, the family events, rodeos, and overall normal events will bring in the opportunity for making memories and friends and the all-around good time feel to Crescent.
Director and sponsor Melinda Gary announced additions to the Creative Arts show.
“This year I’m excited because we will have a country store within our creative arts,” Gary said.
“The exhibitors will actually get to sell some of their exhibits. We have 1,052 exhibitors with 2,626 entries, with the age group from three-years-olds to 56.”
Mark Pool, former El Campo ISD Superintendent and executive board member was excited for the return of Senior Citizens Day.
“We have senior citizen day on Thursday. [Due to COVID] we hadn’t had one in a couple of years now,” Pool said. “They play bingo, have Polka music, and a lot of times we have entertainment like magicians.”
“It runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and it’s a big deal. In fact, when my wife went to Walmart, we would get asked why we didn’t hold this during COVID. So, we’re glad to be back and to ‘bring back the fun.’”
Bonnie Martinez, with the Wharton County Tejano Committee, proudly announced that Tejano Day at the fair would kick-off Saturday, April 30 at 6 p.m. in the old gymnasium.
“We have three bands. One used to be a local group. They started in Newgulf and some of the members are putting the band back together for this event. So, come on out and listen to the music, and like everyone is saying, ‘Bring back the fun.’”
Rhea Prasek held everyone’s attention with her announcement of a new attraction.
“A few years ago, I got a call to ask me chair an event that we couldn’t be more excited to introduce. This brainchild, if you will, is the WCYF ‘Wine’ down, Wine Garden,” Prasek said.
“This has been in the works for more than two years and we are excited to see it up and running. We couldn’t be more pumped.”
At 5 p.m. on Wed., April 27, bottles of red and white wine will be uncorked for adults wanting to sample and just hang out with friends and relatives. The pouring will continue during the evening of Thurs., April 28.
Wine that will be featured includes: a Bread and Butter Prosecco; a Buttery Chardonnay; a local moscato; pinot noir; a cabernet sauvignon; an appropriately addition of Whiplash Red Blend to keep with the theme of ‘bringing back the fun.’
Schedule of Events
As you can see ‘the fun’ is back on the event schedule.
The BBQ Cook-Off will take place on Friday, April 8 and Sat., April 9th. Fair week begins with the Creative Arts Check-in on Thursday, April 21.
Weinheimer invites everyone far and wide to come out to not only support the youth of Wharton County, but to enjoy themselves.
“We’re ready to get everyone out to enjoy time with them. I know I am looking forward to spending our good times together.”
For more information about planned events, show times, or to purchase your season passes, visit The Wharton County Youth Fair website.
Publisher’s Note: While my voice failed me during the Sponsorship Appreciation dinner (Spring allergies got the better of me), I couldn’t help but let the memories of WCYF play through my mind with each passing of the mic. I, too, am a product of the fair, and have reaped its rewards throughout my years.
From pigs to steers and judging to pageants, I can’t help but think that my drive and passion would be missing had it not been for the volunteers that allowed me the opportunity to learn and develop much needed skills, and reap financial rewards to better, well, me.
Livestock projects aside, I cannot be anything short of thankful to WCYF for the opportunity to create relationships that have lasted well over 20 years. See, whether you’re an exhibitor, parent, volunteer, or a kid looking for fun, WCYF is the place for memories and friends.
You don’t have to show a hog or ride a bull to experience the fun. Gathering with friends to ride the carnival rides, watch the rodeo, or to experience some of the best food around is also what the fair provides.
In a small Texas town we all know the feeling Friday Night Lights brings. Stores and restaurants close early to head to stadiums, and the saying all week is, “See you at the game.”
Well, wouldn’t it be wonderful to create a county-wide movement of bringing that same pride you see in your hometown team to Crescent? How wonderful would it be to make this 2022 fair, the best fair ever?
The more involvement and attendance brought in, the more dollars are invested in our youth. Really, its a win-win.
Let’s make the week of April 21 through April 30 a truly, county-wide Wharton County Youth Fair Week.
After the hell we have all been through with the pandemic, mother nature, let’s Bring Back the Fun to Wharton County.
It would mean the world to each exhibitor, volunteer and sponsor to see “See you at the fair” posted on every window, storefront, and in every social media group in the county.
Please join me in fellowship and support of a truly great cause and grand ole time. I invite you to join this endeavor with all of the hardworking men and women out at the fair grounds.
And I hope to see you all at the fair.