Festival Heats Up Saturday With Hot Air Balloon Rally & Glow, Milking Contest
The 2023 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 somewhat eerily, with lots of color, and black and white cows and ice cream décor galore. As the parade progressed though, darker clouds encompassed the skies, combined with some powerful gusts of wind and it looked as though perhaps some festivities Saturday may not get underway.
While the parade disbursed around 11 A.M. Saturday, June 10, the sun beat down initially, baking the pavement, but that changed about halfway through as clouds covered the square, combined with gusts of wind up 11 mph and up, and spectators quickly made their exits as they feared rain was imminent. Luckily, the parade was able to run its course before any sort of inclement weather could put a damper on day two of the yearly celebration.
Even so, Hopkins County enjoyed second-straight festivals for the first time since 2018-19.
Families lined the streets with youngsters, eager to see what goodies those in the DF Parade procession would toss as they passed by. Most threw individual or small packages of candy or gum. 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 marshals Roy & Yvonne King this year, so reigning Dairy Festival Queen Colbie Glenn followed afterwards signaling the start of the parade and the mounted Sheriff’s Posse carrying the flags.
Other local royalty featured atop or waving from within vehicles in the June 11, 2022 Dairy Festival Parade included Jan Massey who was crowned 2023 Ms. Hopkins County Senior Classic, as well as a few legacy Dairy Festival Queens.
The 12 young ladies who are vying this year for the 2023 title of Dairy Festival Queen each entered a float or conveyance designed around this year’s festival theme, “Kickin’ it up for Dairy.”
The parade also featured entries from church and community groups, businesses and families, many decorated in black and white spots.
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 a huge success. 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 2023 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.
While folks did make their way out to Shannon Oaks Church, a delay turned into cancellation due to high winds for the Hot Balloon Rally & Glow Saturday night.