June 4, 2008


Dairy Parade marks 50th year

Thousands gather downtown to watch celebration of dairy industry


Bob Ellis/staff photographer          
Sheri Barber pushes Northwoods Extended Care and Rehabilitation Facility resident Gretchen Parker down Main Street during the annual Cortland County Dairy Parade Tuesday night. Northwoods’ float won in the best business float category. 


Contributing writer

David Barber and his wife, Cathy, have been coming to the Cortland County Dairy Parade for nearly 20 years.
In that time, they have watched as their children enjoyed the parade and now their grandchildren, who were participating in the float for Mothers of Preschoolers, or MOPS.
“Don’t you think the community involvement is wonderful?” asked David Barber, reflecting on the sight of Main Street lined with spectators Tuesday night at the 50th dairy parade.
An overcast sky and light rain did nothing to dissuade the parade-goers from enjoying themselves.
More balloons ended up being used than umbrellas, with flashy neon-colored hats and novelties being sold adding color to the gray evening.
Once the parade started down Main Street at about 6:30, a consistent stream of floats, marching bands and trucks kept the estimated 3,000 spectators occupied, with an occasional siren or horn honk punctuating the procession until it ended almost an hour and a half later.
“I’ve probably been around for all of them (parades),” joked Art Ensign, who declined to provide his age.
After moving away, this was the first time he had been back in 20 years for the parade, his daughter Melanie said. Art described this latest parade as “a lot bigger” than what he recalled from the past.
For Melanie, the charm of the parade had to do with “getting out at the beginning of summer, the bands, the kids.”
Dairy farmers Tom and Tammy McCall sat along the parade route with their two daughters, Haley, 2, and Alexandria, 8 months. Besides supporting the dairy industry, the McCalls cited family as a big reason for attending.
They’ve brought Haley each of the past three parades.
Tammy echoed Melanie Ensign in her feelings that the highlights of the event are marching bands and seeing the children enjoy themselves.
The mix of parade entertainment offered a little bit for all tastes.
The members of the 4-H Saddle Club rode horses down the street while proudly displaying milk moustaches, while Montague Irish Dance demonstrated stepdancing to an appreciative crowd and the Seven Valley Chorus of Sweet Adelines serenaded as they were driven down the street on a covered flatbed truck.
Swords clashed as the Society for Creative Anachronism, a group dedicated to re-creating Western European medieval history, walked along the way, and McGruff the Crime Dog took time to shake hands with excited children while the Homer High School marching band elicited applause from the audience as it performed “America the Beautiful.”
Brenda Brooks, a member of the Cortland County Dairy Promotion Committee and one of the chief organizers of the parade, expressed satisfaction with the day’s events, despite the weather.
“It went really well,” Brooks said. “A few sprinkles but nothing serious.”
At the post-parade ceremony, new 2008-09 dairy princess Jerez Ewanciw was crowned on the County Courthouse steps. Before Ewanciw’s coronation, the 2007-08 dairy princess gave her farewell speech.
Emily Brooks gave a long list of “thank yous” to those who helped make her past year an experience she promised the new dairy princess would find to be “a journey you will never forget.”
Plaques were presented to the best parade floats in four categories.
The Best Business float honor went to Northwoods, the Best Not-for-profit float honor went to Cortland Community for Peace, Best Youth Group was awarded to Homer Future Farmers of America and the best overall float was awarded to First Pioneer Farm Credit.


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