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Susquehanna Dairy Day Draws Healthy Crowd

The annual Susquehanna County Dairy Day, held at Elk Lake School, offers dairy farmers not only a chance to get together to learn new things about their industry, but also offers a chance for the entire community to meet each March in what is most likely the largest gathering in the county...the social event of the year.

For dairy farmers, it is a way to see their suppliers, get new ideas on products, equipment and services (from insurance to banking) and to attend classes to gain credits for pesticide re-certification. This year a safety class, as well as an information session on Marcellus shale gas leasing, was offered.

Dave Andre from Andre & Son, Montrose, was one of the exhibitors.

Dairy Day is also an opportunity, especially on an election year, for politicians to rub elbows with their constituents. Residents can bend their representatives' ears to influence their decisions concerning issues of concern for the dairy industry specifically or for special topics affecting their general livelihood. 

And, if nothing else, Dairy Day lets those outside the industry get a glimpse of the workings of farming life where their food, fiber and fuel are produced. It's obvious that the free ice cream (about 75 gallons), milk and cheese makes for a pleasant day for all in attendance, as well as giving everyone a sense of connection to the dairy industry through the well-known and ubiquitous dairy products. 

Ice cream came from Keatings of Lake Ariel and Kool Cow of Montrose. These are offered to the event at a discount by the suppliers. Cheese is purchased with donations given by DFA (Dairy Farmers of America), and milk is purchased from donations by various milk companies

This 22nd Annual Dairy Day, held in the gymnasium, hallways, classrooms and cafeteria at Elk Lake School District, is offered by the district without charge as a community service. Since Elk Lake district is mostly a farming community, it is fitting that Dairy Day is located in this district. Each year, the school calendar automatically notes a "no school" day for Elk Lake students on the first Friday in March.

One of the highlights of the day is the pie contest. This year there were 33 pies for judging while two additional ones were submitted to be auctioned off. The proceeds from the auction are split between the 4-H Dairy program and the Dairy Princess program. This year's auction netted a total of $3,095, which is a bit higher than the last few years.
 Norm Clark of Springville paid the highest amount for a single pie, $200. It was for an Oreo cream pie baked by his granddaughter, Vicki Clark. Altogether, about half the pies are won at the auction by businesses as a way to contribute to the ongoing programs that they support, and it certainly helps to contribute to a community image for the businesses.

Winners in the pie contest are divided into youth and adult categories. Youth winners included Grasyn Bushnell for her cookies and cream pie, Olivia Mitchell for her raspberry cheesecake and Callie Curley for her blackberry pie. Mitchell is the Dairy Princess for the county and Curley is a Dairy Ambassador.

Adult winners were Cindy Holdridge for a cherry pie, Anne Teel for a lemon cream pie and Sheri Minar for a mile high sky peanut butter brownie pie.
 Judges for the pie contest included the three Susquehanna County Commissioners, Mary Ann Warren, Leon Allen and Michael Giangrieco. Also, three from the farming community were selected through a drawing and were Blair Purdy, Maureen Kane and Winston Wright.

A lunch is served to attendees who register ahead of time. Charges of $3 for a meal help to defray the cost of the school cafeteria workers and the food they serve. The fee doesn't cover all those expenses, so the vendor set-up fees subsidize the lunches. Ninety vendors, including those offering information on health topics as well as free vaccinations, participated.
 Six hundred and seventy-eight lunches were served by the staff. However, the estimated total attendance at Dairy Day was 1,000, which is even higher than the last couple of years.

Penn State Cooperative Extension of Susquehanna County Dairy Educator Michelle Kowalewski was the organizer for the event. She said that everyone from the office goes to help with registration, door prizes, pie contest, serving of ice cream and cheese and all the other tasks involved in making for a successful day.
 She said that there were more outside exhibitors this year who brought equipment to display in the parking lot.
 The overall mission of Dairy Day is education, workshops and meeting with agribusinesses, and Kowalewski was "very pleased with the turnout for the event."

Mark it on your calendar now. Next year's Dairy Day is scheduled for March 2.

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