Festival Heats Up Saturday With Hot Air Balloon Rally & Glow, Milking Contest
The 2022 Hopkins County Dairy Festival Parade was a huge hit, the Junior Dairy Show a great success and the milking contest included a few surprises.
The second day of Hopkins County Dairy Festival dawned brightly, with lots of color, and black and white cows and ice cream décor galore. Even without the extreme heat advisory issued for the weekend, there is no doubt summer has arrived in Hopkins County.
The heat index for all of North and Central Texas was projected to climb as high as 108 in some areas between noon Saturday, June 11, and 7 p.m. Sunday, June 12. While the parade disbursed around 11 a.m. Saturday, June 10, the sun beat down, baking the pavement, leaving those who forgot to apply sunscreen with a new pink if not rosy tomato hue, those without proper hydration parched and most at least mildly dewy if not drenched from the humidity. Proper hydration for those involved in outdoor activities, especially those with added heat such as the Hot Air Balloon Rally, was a necessity to prevent dehydration, overheating and potentially even heat stroke.
Even so, Hopkins County enjoyed the return of the festival for the first time since 2019.
Families lined the streets with youngsters, eager to see what goodies those in the DF Parade procession would toss as they passed by. Many threw individual or small packages of candy or gum, while others tossed dairy-related items such as foam or stuffed ice cream cones and cows. A few who walked alongside floats and decorated rides handed out other items such as free or discounted coupons for family entertainment or upcoming activities.
The parade had no marshal this year, so reigning Dairy Festival Queen Rachel Bramlett, the only three-year queen in the pageant’s history thanks to COVID-19, lead from just behind the police escort signaling the start of the parade and the mounted Sheriff’s Posse carrying the flags. (Bramlett as the official face and ambassador for the Dairy Festival, attended all of the events and activities, lending a hand where needed, greeting visitors and friends, a delightful representative of Hopkins County and the dairy community.)
Other local royalty featured atop or waving from within vehicles in the June 11, 2022 Dairy Festival Parade included Kylene Claypool, who was crowned 2022 Ms. Hopkins County Senior Classic June 4, 2022, as well as a few legacy Dairy Festival Queens such as Linda Booker Bennett who is celebrating the 60th anniversary of her win, Shelbi Charles Verratti who celebrated 25 years since her win, and Molly Millsap Stevens who celebrated the 10th anniversary since she achieved her childhood dream of becoming Dairy Festival Queen.
The 12 young ladies who are vying this year for the 2022 title of Dairy Festival Queen each entered a float or conveyance designed around an ice cream flavor, in keeping with this year’s festival theme, “Ice Scream For Dairyland.”
The parade also featured entries from church and community groups, businesses and families, most decorated in black and white spots, with cows or ice cream themes. One truck pulling a group was even “dressed up” to look like a cow. Others wore cow costumes, make-up and horns. MADD’s haybale cow was not happy about drunk and impaired driving. One group added a twist to the them with zombie cows causing the “screaming” instead of people clamoring for ice cream.
Entries too included tractors and big trucks, fire trucks, elected city and county officials, Sulphur Springs Corvette Club members, Jeep Club members and a couple of big rigs of the kind used to transport dairy products, some horseback riders and three ice cream and snack trucks.
The hot air balloon pilots and crews in town for the weekend got in on the fun too, not only decorating their baskets and rides with odes to the dairy industry or ice cream theme, but firing up from their baskets along the parade route and, later, asking if they too might once again participate in the milking contest along with pageant contestants and their parents for ragging rights.
As the parade was starting at Buford Park, about a block over the Junior Dairy Show was also getting under way in the Civic Center Arena. This year’s show was considered a huge success, with about 60 entries — nearly three times as many entries as the last show. The livestock projects were as varied as the youth showing them, some younger and smaller, many of different colors and sizes reflecting their breed, class and category.
The cows in each class were ranked, with the top ones then pitted against one another for a chance to win overall Grand and Reserve Champions and showmanship recognition, then from those a supreme champion was selected. There were so many entered that the Junior Dairy Show ran about an hour over, delaying the start of the Milking Contest.
The 2022 Dairy Festival Milking Contest featured all of the 2022 pageant contestants assigned a cow to milk. The milk was collected, then weighed. The contestants’ parents then were charged with taking their daughter’s pails and trying to milk. Six heifers were used, with girls assigned numbers which determined whether they were in the first or second round of competition. Each was timed and the milk from the contestant’s pail weighed at the end of the round. The girls’ parents then together tried their luck at milking. While those tallies were being figured, 10 balloon pilots then tried their hands at milking too, in keeping with what has become a competitive tradition for them as well.
Trophies were presented to the three contestants and parents teams who were able to get the most milk in their pails.
And, of course, when dealing with animals, there are always a few surprises such as heifers that are tender, tired of being on show all day, that have consumed just enough foods and fluids to suddenly make a “prize” those showing them in the Dairy Show and those milking had not bargained for. A couple of heifers were a bit contrary, perhaps even a bit nervous from so much attention and noise, and sat down when they needed to circle the arena or pulled away from those guiding or trying to milk them, and a of pageant contestant’s milking pails were tipped over and freshly squeezed milk spilled onto the Arena ground, forcing the competitors to start over.
Then, everything was packed up for a brief respite before the balloon crews, contestants and Dairy Festival Board headed back over to Shannon Oaks Church to meet up with volunteers and balloon crews for another evening Hot Air Balloon Rally and Glow. Friday night left many drenched from the humidity, heat and hard work and heat from the burning fuel which inflated and lifted the balloons into the air. With the high heat and humidity, Saturday night was a real scorcher.