Chenango County Dairy Princess Shelby Benjamin was crowned New York’s 58th Dairy Princess in a virtual ceremony Tuesday, Feb. 16.
Benjamin, a Norwich resident and SUNY Oneonta graduate, has served as Chenango County dairy princess since spring, according to a media release from the American Dairy Association North East, which sponsors the annual competition.
With her state title, Benjamin will receive a $1,200 scholarship and will serve for a year as a dairy industry ambassador and spokesperson, advocating for dairy farmers, educating consumers on the nutritional benefits of milk and dairy foods, sustainable farming and the economic importance of dairy.
The coronavirus pandemic altered the responsibilities of a dairy princess, which typically include appearances at local dairy princess pageants, farmer meetings, state and county fairs and school events, according to ADANE. With an increased need for food assistance during the pandemic, dairy princesses played an important role promoting and assisting with milk distribution events organized by ADANE.
Benjamin competed against 10 other county dairy princesses in the state pageant, which included a personal interview, impromptu questions, a prepared speech, product knowledge exam, writing skills test and informal interactions with others. Contestants were evaluated on their communication skills, knowledge of the dairy industry, poise and personality.
Holly Niefergold from Erie County was named first Alternate State Princess and Elizabthy Hyman from Jefferson County was selected as second Alternate State Princess. Both alternate state princesses will assist Benjamin with training, appearances and other duties.