The Wharton County Youth Fair and Exposition (WCYF&E) was organized in 1975 as a corporation for the promotion of educational programs and activities for the benefit of the youth of Wharton County who are interested in agriculture, livestock production, and associated industries. The purpose is to provide encouragement and assistance through scholarships to these individuals in order that they might achieve proficiency through higher learning and education.
The Wharton County Boy Builders Association was a group of businessmen that was formed to take on the responsibility for providing a venue for the youth of Wharton County to exhibit and sell their animal projects. This group was associated with the old Wharton Youth Fair until 1963, when the County Commissioners withdrew all monetary support for the fair. The fair closed and the property eventually became part of the Wharton County Junior College campus. The events and show were then held in the county barn in Pierce, Texas. The leadership of the Boy Builders Association set a goal of establishing a privately funded county fair.
The corporate charter for the WCYF&E was approved and filed on December 15, 1975. The WCYF&E was the first Youth Fair to obtain a 501(c) 3 tax exempt status in the state of Texas. The first meeting was held on January 12, 1976, at which time officers and directors were elected.
The Crescent Property was purchased from the El Campo Independent School District. The original property purchased consisted of 8.8 acres, which included a brick school structure with a gymnasium, an old wooden concession stand that was quickly demolished, and a wooden home that housed the first caretakers of the grounds. In addition there was an old wooden building that had once been the School Cafeteria. Building projects that began in 1977 still continue today.
Since the start of the Scholarship Program in 1978, the Wharton County Youth Fair & Exposition has awarded more than $2.1 million in scholarships. The Scholarship Program is just one of the ways the WCYF is attempting to serve the youth of Wharton County. In the beginning, two $1,000 scholarships were awarded to a worthy boy and girl chosen from candidates submitted by 4-H leaders, homemaking instructors, and vocational agriculture teachers. Selection was based on Youth’s participation in fair activities, on need, and on grades and citizenship. The $1,000 awards were used by the youth to further his or her education at the college or university of their choice. The Scholarship Program has continued to grow over the years.
It is the sincere intent of the Board to continue to provide support and opportunity to the youth of Wharton County.
The success of the WCYF&E has been due to the dedicated volunteers who year in and year out work to make the fair better using all their talents to build buildings and build relationships through the county to insure the fair’s success.
The early founders, most of who have passed, would be very proud of what now stands at the windswept corner of FM 960 and 961. The future is in the hands of the children and grandchildren of those first founders, lifetime members, committee chairmen, volunteers. And the future looks as promising today as it did back in 1976 when that first 8 acres was purchased and the first spade lifted the soil of the Crescent School grounds to pave the way for the new little youth Fair.