Guest blogger, Gretchen Little, is the 2017-2018 Pennsylvania State Alternate Dairy Princess
The annual Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event held in the country, and with over half a million visitors, I can’t think of a better place for the dairy industry to interact with the public.
This January, the Pennsylvania state royalty team: Yvonne Longenecker, Casandra Blickley and me, Gretchen Little, took up the charge of interacting with Farm Show guests. Each day, from open to close, our team had the honor of representing the Pennsylvania dairy industry. We spent these days much like the farmers we were representing – beginning before sun up and not resting until long after the sun went down. Our days were packed with events to attend, people to meet and information to share.
Our week at Farm Show kicked off with the traditional, and much anticipated, unveiling of the butter sculpture. The sculpture, sponsored by American Dairy Association North East, was carved from a half-ton of butter and was an amazing sight! This year’s theme was Strength in Our Diversity, and the sculpture depicted the diverse careers and roles that are needed to support the dairy industry.
It was inspiring to see a butter sculpture that highlighted the varying roles and the implication of how important each of us are to the agriculture industry. While Yvonne and I both grew up on farms, Casi did not, but is creating her own role within the industry, working daily on a farm and majoring in agriculture.
Our busy week continued with the opening of the Calving Corner. There seemed to be a non-stop progression of people hoping to witness the miracle of birth. Since new calves are the future of dairy farmers’ herds, farmers and veterinarians work hard to ensure that the cows and calves are safe and comfortable, before, during and after the births. There is no better way to start a conversation about dairy farming, than for guests to witness firsthand the care cows receive. I loved seeing the smiles on the children’s faces as they watched the new calves and was reminded of the first time I assisted with a birth on my farm. I’ll never forget my surprise when we realized the mom was having twins and the pride I took in bottle feeding those calves. I still feel that anxious joy each time one of my show cows is ready to calf.
There is so much happening at Farm Show, and just as farmers need help from their families or hired hands, we were lucky to receive help from county dairy princesses from all over the state, in addition to our board and past princesses. With their help, we manned the t-shirt booth and the learning station which was open for all of Farm Show and had a steady stream of visitors. The learning station allowed us to speak with guests and answer any questions they had about the dairy industry while using a fun and educational puzzle that visually showed how milk goes from farm to table.
Just like farming, Farm Show was filled with ups and downs, busy days and helping hands. The week was exhausting, but our royalty team made every moment count and our friendship and goal of promoting the dairy farming grew stronger.
Yvonne, Casi and I were not only thankful for the adventures and new opportunities we had that week, but mostly for being a part of the 102nd Farm Show and knowing we played our role in the diverse dairy industry.