Monday, January 15, 2007

Dairy princesses deserve a toast

SALEM, Ore. — Watching the Oregon Dairy Princess-Ambassador coronation banquet on Saturday night, I admired how well the competitors from various counties had prepared for this event. They were charming, confident, courteous and knowledgeable. Each reflected how passionate and proud she was to represent and promote the dairy industry.

They memorized long fact-filled speeches, wore gorgeous long gowns, answered questions spontaneously, and kept their dignity intact and smiles on their faces as long as they could — even when they might have made any mistakes while in the spotlight in front of an audience of mostly strangers.

Their lives flashed before them on the screen: videos showed these women as they grew up from little girls on farms and dairies in the state. We saw their classmates, families, farm animals: we saw these women as they played sports, posed with their siblings, and saw them change from farm girls doing chores at home one moment to being escorted in heels to the stage in Salem, Ore. while dressed in formal wear.

Whether they won or lost, these women usually shared how much they had matured during the time they competed for this title. They learned about themselves as well as picked up skills preparing them for this position.

Shannon Henderson, of Tillamook County, earned the honor of being the next dairy princess-ambassador. In an interview later, she talked about how in the next year she will gain new realms of responsibility and learn “ to be ladylike in front of all these people.” She said that a charm class had already taught her and the others “how to sit, talk, walk, eat, sleep and be ladylike at the same time.”

I have this image of Michael Caine teaching Sandra Bullock how to be ladylike in the movie Miss Congeniality and I think … he was lucky. She was an easy one, compared to me.

Anyone who can make a transformation from working on the farm to being totally comfortable, confident and a coronation contender earns my respect any day.

For any of us who grew up on a farm or still toil on one, we all know how big of a challenge it can be sometimes to be ladylike and maybe even glamorous.

After pushing around stubborn cows in a stall to coax them to accept their calves, mucking around with heavy hay bales for steers and heifers in the muddy feedlot, picking rocks in a dusty field, shoveling itchy grain in and out of trucks and bins, picking berries with stained hands, weeding and digging and pulling and doing everything else our gardens and fields needed, well … sometimes I wondered whether I could ever truly learn to be ladylike. I think I’ve given up that goal in this lifetime.

But I raise a glass of milk to toast all those who competed this year in their respective counties and states to be the next dairy princess.

1 comment:

threecollie said...

All three of our kids were dairy ambassadors and we thought it was a great program. It was hard to go from the barn in jeans to the bank in a gown though.

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