Dairy Fest returns with moo-mentum

Sarah Eames | The Daily Star

From left, Hunter Sitts, 6, and Abby and Emma Huyck, 3 and 6, of Treadwell, visit with a calf Sunday at the Meredith Dairy Fest. 

Organizers said the 2019 Meredith Dairy Fest drew thousands of visitors this weekend to a field off the Catskill Turnpike, on Honest Brook Road in the town of Meredith.

The festival is now in its third year after a hiatus of nearly a decade, according to Shirley Niebanck, a member of the organizing committee.

“I’m so glad they brought it back,” said Michelle Owens of Coventry. “I have such wonderful memories of coming up with my grandparents when I was a kid, and now I get to share the experience with my family.”

The event featured food trucks, concessions and dozens of vendors, including Barb Hanselman, owner of the Farmer’s Wife Baked Goods in Bloomville.

Hanselman said she started the business 22 years ago as a means of earning extra income to offset the financial setbacks of the struggling dairy industry.

“People don’t realize it doesn’t take a significant investment to get through the bad times,” she said.

Hanselman said she always liked to bake and was famous for her pies, available in flavors like apple and razzleberry, but found customers in search of a portable, single-serve treat, so she invented the “thingamajig, a pie you can eat like a cookie.” It is now one of her best-sellers. 

Also available in the Pure Catskills tent were products from Blackberry Ridge Farm of Delhi, Lump’s Spice Company in Otego, Brookside Maple in DeLancey and Masonville Rhubarb, as well as samples from Kerrs Creek Distillery of Walton, soy candles and lotions from Otsdawa Creek Candles and Harpersfield cheese from Brovetto’s Dairy Farm.

Dozens of kids waited in line for a turn on the bounce house and slide, mechanical bull and the kiddie train, while others visited with kittens available for adoption from the Delaware Valley Humane Society and, of course, cows.

Even though their parents said they see plenty of cows every day, Emma and Abby Huyck, 6 and 3, and Hunter Sitts, 6, of Treadwell, were eager to pet the calf.

Members of the Delaware County Dairy Princess Court provided passersby with dairy nutritional information and fun facts, and Delaware Academy student members of the FFA sold squares on the “cow plop bingo” grid for $5 apiece. The ticketholder of the square on which the cow relieved itself won 10% of the earnings, while the rest of the proceeds were donated to Meredith Emergency Medical Services, according to 17-year-old volunteer Cassidy Smith.

“I’m so impressed with the turnout of the kids,” Niebanck said.

The event is volunteer-based, and the majority of the profits will be donated to the Meridale and East Meredith fire departments, programs at local schools, camperships at Four-H Camp Shankitunk and other community nonprofits, according to Niebanck.

“It’s always great to see everyone come together and have such a good time,” she said. “It really is a family affair.”

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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