By Lynda Brommage
This year’s Hilmar Dairy & Farm Festival had a great turn out with folks pouring in as soon as it opened last Saturday afternoon, June 12, at the town’s high school football field.
There were many events and activities lined up, with the Milkman and Milkmaid contest being one of the main attractions. The festival lasted until 10 p.m., ending with a fireworks show.
Hilmar Chamber of Commerce President, Crystal Casey, chamber members and sponsors made this years event possible on very short notice. But with plenty of support and the help of volunteers they made it happen. It was a great kickstart to getting back to normal pre-pandemic times, and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.
Vendors, food trucks, and events wrapped around the circumference of the football field leaving the center grass area free for children to play, run and folks to roam. Some even laid out picnic blankets setting themselves up for the evenings scheduled firework show.
Activities for children included a bounce house, a large inflatable water slide, an animal calling contest, and a real live cow milking lesson. However, it appeared the children preferred to pet the cow. Joseph Gomes, of the Hilmar-Irwin Stevinson Historical Society, got into action using his bare hands and then turned to a manual 1905 milking machine.
Other features included a car show, a display of motor cycles, and real live camel belonging to Merced County Supervisor District 4 Lloyd Pareira. On the other side of the football field were exhibits of sponsors including tractors with their company logos, the Sheriff’s Department and first responders entourage of vehicles along with a very shiny white fire truck.
The Hilmar Chamber had the biggest booth, providing lots of information. They also sold raffle tickets. Nearby, in a long ice bin, were free small cartons of milk and water bottles. There was no shortage food, drinks or things to do. In fact it was hard to keep up with all the activities. Vendors selling their goods also stayed busy with patrons making their rounds.
There were live music performances by artist singing their songs to a captive audience sitting on the bleachers and big speakers that sounded out to the entire festival grounds. The first performance was the “Pledge of Allegiance” sung by 5-year-old Feenix Coder, one of the Milkmaid contestants. It was sung again later in the evening by last year’s Milkmaid, Danity Wallker.
A special flag folding ceremony was performed by the Turlock Honor Guard with Michael Seward of the National Legislative Committee of the VFW explaining the meaning of each of the thirteen folds and how they represent the principals on which are county was founded. Flag day was observed on Monday, June 14.
The highlight of the festival was the Little Milkman and Milkmaid Contest. The 12 contestants comprised of six girls and six boys, ranging in ages from 3 to 6 — however, one little guy was MIA.
Each little Milkman and Milkmaid were asked a series of questions by Hilmar High teacher and MC for the festival, Michelle Machado. She asked them their age, their favorite food, if they had any pets, and what they wanted to be when they grew up. Each contestant gave a performance in the way of a song, dance, game, or they told a few of jokes in which the audience also participated.
The judges took their time deciding the winners for this years Milkman and Milkmaid. Meanwhile Dairy Princess Alyce Silva spoke of the great honor she has had as Dairy Princess and all the opportunities the title had afforded her. Once the judges voted on the winners they were crowned by last years winners Nathaniel Texeira and Danity Walker.
Christian Casey, 6, won this years Milkman title, and our new Milkmaid winner is Maddison Mendes, 4.
In all, the audience was absolutely captivated and mesmerized by the children’s performance and their hard work in preparation for the contest.
All the little contestants were given prizes for their participation. But once the winners were crowned and draped in their title ribbon by Machado, with nearly two hours on stage, the little contestants were getting restless and in a jumble they where ready to get off the stage.
The Hilmar Dairy & Farm Festival was just what the community needed to get back on track to a little normalcy. Folks came from all around to attend and enjoy the festivities. The weather was warm and inviting. It appeared that everyone had lots of fun.