Setting up pies for judging on April 10 were (above, from left) Susquehanna County 4-H members Amanda Voll, Jillian Gustin, and Gavin Bewley. Announcing the winner of a pair of dairy baskets were (below, from left) Susquehanna County Dairy Promotion representatives Holly Harvatine, Ava Hughes, and Courtney Marvin.
Photos and story by Rick Hiduk
(Portions of this story originally appeared in the Susquehanna County Independent)
Farm & Home Day at Elk Lake High School was well-attended on April 10, and the involvement of young people in the event was evident. What attendees see of the youths is only the tip of the iceberg, however, when it comes to how much they actually do. Through a unique pairing of members of the Susquehanna County Dairy Promotion team and 4-H members whose focus is also largely centered on dairy farming, many of the behind the scenes tasks are handled by the youths.
The event is coordinated by the Susquehanna County Penn State Extension office and brings together like-minded organizations and professional vendors that provide services to rural families and ag producers. Farm & Home Day also renders a unique opportunity for youths involved in 4-H and dairy promotion to interact with the public and share the knowledge they have gained through their respective programs.
Dozens of Dairy princesses and ambassadors served ice cream from their corner of the gymnasium and also delivered ice cream, milk, cheese and crackers, and eventually lunch to vendors and Extension staff who were busy with registration, displays and workshops. According to Susquehanna County Dairy Promotion adviser Evie Goff, 17 flavors were supplied this year by Manning’s Dairy Farm. “All in all, it’s a busy but fun day for the youths in our Dairy Promotion team,” Goff remarked.
Upwards of 50 youths from various 4-H clubs in Susquehanna County were also engaged. Some hosted exhibits and invited children in attendance to answer trivia questions and partake in other easy games to win some prizes. “These kids help set up and break down Farm and Home Day,” said Cathy Bewley, president of the county’s Dairy 4-H Club. “They move tables, run electric cords, and help to register pies as they come in.”
Dairy princess Holly Harvatine even had an opportunity to be on TV, when WNEP reporter Alexandra interviewed her for a segment aired on channel 16’s evening news. “It is my mission. I want to talk to everyone of all ages, young and old about where their food comes from,” Harvatine told Gallo. “Some people don’t know. Even some adults don’t know what happens on a day-to-day basis on a dairy farm.”
The popular pie auction, during which local businesses and elected officials engage in friendly bidding wars to compensate bakers for their efforts and to encourage their continued involvement with rural traditions served as the grand finale of the event. Members of the Dairy Promotion team took turns “modeling” the pies, many of which were baked by 4-H and Dairy Promotion youths and which often fetch hundreds of dollars a piece. Though it’s not quite strawberry season in the Endless Mountains, strawberries were a mainstay of the winning pies baked by youths, including Emmory Coy-Puzo, Alex Empet, and Jillian Gustin. Adult bakers provided guests judges with a greater variety to tempt their palates, and pies baked by Lori Farley, Brenda Voll and Allison Quick were deemed the best.
Auction proceeds were pooled and split evenly between the 4-H and Dairy Promotion programs.
Inviting Farm & Home Day guests to play a round of Dairy Trivia with them are Susquehanna County Dairy maids Lynsey Zawiski (left) and Emmory Coy-Puzo.