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Bluhm’s graces fairgrounds with donations and a little color

Bluhm’s graces fairgrounds with donations and a little color
Kylie Knecht, right, owner of Bluhm’s Greenhouse, hands a check to help with fairground rebuilding to Rockford FFA President Amber Reams. Also pictured are volunteers Maggie Hain, Zach Ott, Olivia Staudt, Bryce Marzen Wesley Knecht, Jesse Hain and Jayden Jorgensen, who filled the planter with flowers donated by Bluhm’s.
By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

Kylie Knecht was an eye-witness to the tornado that tore up the Floyd County Fairgrounds on Memorial Day.

Knecht saw the twister from her business, Bluhm’s Greenhouse, seconds after it had destroyed several buildings on the fairgrounds and across the highway at Floyd County Ag.

“It looped and it just hovered, right behind us,” Knecht said. “There was really nothing we could do, there wasn’t enough warning for us to go anywhere. So we just watched it — I remember thinking, ‘oh my gosh, if that moves a couple more feet it could literally wipe us out.’”

Knecht said eventually the tornado went back up in the sky and left, and she and others went to make sure everyone was ok. Fortunately, there were no major injuries — but the damage that was done was both breathtaking and heart-wrenching.

“I just had this feeling, and this desire in my heart, that I really wanted to give back and make sure that we were helping them move forward,” she said. “That could’ve easily been us. We just felt really blessed, but our hearts were breaking for both of our neighbors.”

Through her greenhouse, Knecht led a fundraiser earlier this month to support the Floyd County Fairgrounds after the extensive damage. For every four-inch pot sold between June 3-9, the greenhouse donated $1 to the Floyd County Fairgrounds in “an effort to help them carry on with organizing this year’s fair as well as rebuilding for future fairs.”

“Then we had people asking if they could make donations on top of that,” Knecht said. “It was really exciting and really fun.”

In all, $521 was raised from the fundraiser and $70 in other donations, but Knecht wanted to do a little more.

“At the end of the week, I really wanted to decorate with color, too,” she said.

She donated some flowers to add a little color to the devastation, and volunteers helping with the cleanup helped fill the planter in front of the fairgrounds.

“I actually just brought them over some color to help decorate their fairgrounds again,” she said. “The kids met me, and they’re the ones who actually planted them. Some of them were part of a horticulture class, so I honestly just dropped them off and they got really excited and did their thing.”

This is the first year for Knecht to run Bluhm’s Greenhouse, an enterprise that has been in her family for more than three generations. Her father, Matt Bluhm, operated the business for more than 30 years until his passing this past January of colon cancer at the age of 55.

“I’m trying to fill some very big shoes,” Knecht said. “I’ve felt my dad with me, the entire time.”

She said she’s been thankful for the community support she’s received, and grateful for the stories she’s heard about her father.

“I’ve loved the stories,” she said. “People come out and tell me stories about my dad all the time, which is amazing. If it wasn’t for the community, we wouldn’t be sitting where we’re at right now.”

She said donating to help the fairgrounds was something her father would’ve done.

“Giving back was really important to my dad, and the fairgrounds meant a lot to my dad as well — he donated every single year,” Knecht said. “This was something that I just knew he would want to do.”

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