Dairy’s Crowning Achievement

6/18/2012 9:18 AM
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County dairy princesses have been a part of the fabric of the dairy farming community for more than 50 years. Most of the time, talk about the program focuses on the impact of the dairy princess on others, but the program has also affected the lives those who have served as dairy princess.

A New York dairy farmer, Joe Peck of Saratoga County, wrote an essay that was read before his county dairy princess pageant one year called What Is a Dairy Princess? In several short paragraphs, he shares his viewpoint on the evolution of a farm girl into the role of dairy promoter. And how at each county pageant, people are amazed to see the retiring princess after she has evolved into a “well-spoken, self-assured and graceful young lady.”

This weekend, the last of the county princess pageants will be held for the year completing the 2012-13 county princess class, starting again the princess evolution.

The essay is as follows.

What Is A Dairy Princess?

A dairy princess is a starry-eyed teenager, more at home feeding a newborn calf than speaking at a Farm Bureau annual meeting. She may be a tomboy in sneakers, sweatshirt and jeans who has been told by someone on the County Dairy Princess Committee that being a dairy princess is really easy and a lot of fun. They tell her she should have no problem carrying a full academic program in school, being a cheerleader, feeding calves daily and meeting all the requirements of a dairy princess. In spite of her concern about taking on too much, she reluctantly agrees to give it a try.

The big night comes and this tongue-tied future ambassador for dairy farmers, in her best gown, manages an almost graceful walk up the aisle, a creditable speech and the tears of joy during the winning announcement and ensuing coronation.

Her family beams with pride, little knowing the thousands of miles they will travel during the coming year so that she may spread the word about our wonderful dairy products.

A dairy princess is really a courageous teenager thrown into the difficult field of public relations.

She must captivate first graders with a visit from a real princess, convince dairy farmers that all of her hard work does result in more milk being consumed and, above all, she must always appear to consumers to love all dairy products and be happy that she has a role in promoting their use.

This tireless worker may be found making a 30-second radio spot, promoting cheese, handing out yogurt samples by a supermarket dairy case or sitting on the back of a horse-drawn wagon in a local parade. It is all in a day's work for these unsung heroines of milk promotion.

As the next dairy princess banquet approaches, she has mixed emotions. On the one hand, she is having a hard time keeping up her hectic pace, but on the other hand, she will miss the wonderful times she is having.

Again, the big night finally comes, she gamely coronates her successor and as she makes her farewell speech, we all stare spellbound at this once tongue-tied, unsure kid. She has, in one year's time, become a well-spoken, self-assured and graceful young lady whose confidence in herself and her future fills the room.

Yes, that is what a dairy princess is. We dairy farmers are proud of them all and are eternally grateful for all the hard work and sacrifice they and their families have made to promote our product.

 --- Charlene M. Shupp Espenshade, Special Sections Editor

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