Local real estate developer Greg Hostetler announced Saturday he would set up a $1 million endowment to aid the Merced County Spring Fair.
The surprise announcement was made during the fair's livestock auction.
Fair Board Director Paul Parreira took to the stage and, after brief introductory remarks, passed the microphone to Hostetler, who visited the stage with stepdaughter Andrea Brandt and her husband, Ron Brandt, who is the manager of the Spring Fair.
Hostetler spoke fondly of Cathie Hostetler, his late wife of 38 years, and her love for the fair. Hostetler told the crowd about Cathie's wish that some of her estate go toward keeping the fair viable.
He then surprised the audience by announcing that an endowment in Cathie Hostetler's name was being established in the amount of $1 million and that the money from the endowment would be used to benefit the fair in the future.
According to her obituary, Cathie Hostetler passed away in 2010 after a three-year battle with Lou Gehrig's disease.
"Before she passed, she wanted to start a foundation that would benefit the fairs," Andrea Brandt said after the announcement. "And so she has funded the foundation with a million dollars. The earnings that that principle has will be used to help the kids and the fair."
Brandt said how the money will be used every year could vary.
"This year, what we decided to do was to fund every livestock exhibitor that sold with a flat $50 bonus," she said. "So that way it benefits every one of the sale exhibitors. That will be applied to the dairy, the small animals and the junior livestock (auction) that happened (Saturday)."
Brandt added that her mother "really believed in the fair and the experience the kids would have and wants to make sure it continues."