By DEBBIE WACHTER MORRIS dmorris@ncnewsonline.com

A thousand dollars might seem a lot to pay for a basket with 7.6 pounds of provolone cheese. But a bottle of wine was an added bonus. To Eric Watson, the purchase was worth the bidding price because it went to a good cause. Lawrence County Dairy Princess Brandie Hillmar will use the proceeds for college or other 4-H dairy projects. Hers was one of 18 cheese baskets sold Wednesday night at auction as part of the annual dairy promotion at the Lawrence County Fair. It’s typically a night of lighthearted fun, when farm families from throughout the county gather in friendship, costumed cows are on parade and everyone enjoys an ice cream sundae at the end, made by the dairy princess. The youths who sold the cheese baskets in the auction were exhibitors in the Lawrence County Junior Dairy Show. The cheese, donated by the Dairy Farmers of America in New Wilmington, was commensurate in size with the cheese yield of each cow. Although Watson was high bidder on Hillmar’s basket, it was bought jointly by his company, Watson’s Inc. of Hermitage; Gerald Hitte Repairs, Coulter Trucking and W.W. McFarland Lumber, all of New Wilmington; Baden Milk Hauling of Sharpsville; and Sankey Feed Mill of Plain Grove. The cow with the champion cheese yield was a Guernsey named Popcorn, shown by Cara Trotter of North Beaver Township. She led her cow into the auction ring as a cheese block weighing 9.83 pounds was sold for $400 to her grandparents, Bev and Joe Snyder of Snyder’s Dairy Farm in Volant. The first bowl of ice cream sundae was auctioned off, and the buyer was Witmer Feed and Grain of Columbiana, Ohio, which paid $500. Those proceeds go to the Lawrence County Dairy Promotion Committee. The program opened with a calf dress-up contest featuring four groups of children, parading in costume with their young bovines. The winning group introduced “the best law enforcement yet to hit Lawrence County,” featuring Sheriff Seth Sturgeon, 7; Deputy Chloe Sturgeon, 4; Elsie Sturgeon, 8 months and Delaney Sturgeon, 4 months, with their calf, Cat. Second place featured twins Ian and Ellie McKissick of New Castle. With their calf, Aggie, they created a banana split. Ellie was dressed as vanilla ice cream topped with strawberries, while Ian was topped with chocolate sauce. Aggie was flanked by banana shaped pillows. Ian and Wyatt Lawrence of Lawn Haven Farm were straight from the hospital, with Ian, 6, hobbling on crutches and Wyatt, 1, and their calf dressed in hospital greens. Their message was, “When you get banged up, drink milk to get better fast!” Audrey Staples, 3, and Maylia Baney, 2, dressed up with their calf in a Strawberry Shortcake theme with the message, “Strawberry shortcakes love strawberries and milk.” They and the Lawrences won honorable mention. Two new awards this year were in memory of former Penn State agricultural extension agent Dave Rynd, who died of cancer in November. Jeff McKissick, fair board member, presented the Rynd “participant award” to Austin Martin of Volant. His name was chosen from a random drawing of participants in the junior dairy show. The “Spirit Award” went to Lyndsay Wallace, who also is the fair queen. She was selected by 4-H and Future Farmers of America leaders as a youth who best represents 4-H. “That’s what Dave was all about,” McKissick said of Rynd.

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