It seems like every year the Pennsylvania Dairy Princess Coronation is less pageant and more entertainment. Don’t misunderstand. All of the pageant trimmings are there – tiaras, gowns, milk toasts, and a plethora of pageant and princess photographs from yesteryear. Those pictures festoon the Radisson Hotel lobby in Harrisburg with a room dedicated to scrapbooks of princessiana off the lobby. There is singing, acting, recitation, a bit of light footwork that passes for dancing on occasion only because there isn’t any real room for it onstage. To top it all off there is Kirk Sattazahn, the pageant’s perennial emcee, a genial humorist whose jokes always deliver. When the judging gets to the ‘push comes to shove’ stage, the judges are faced with assessing stage ability – speeches, radio commercials, Mary Poppins ‘selling’ milk (this year), and a host of thespian-related abilities. But exactly what is a dairy princess? According to the 59th Pageant program guide, she is many things.
- She is warm, friendly, a well-groomed young lady with a deep love and loyalty for her family, friends and dairying.
• She is reverent and lives according to her faith.
• She enjoys people of all ages – and she makes everyone feel important.
• She is well informed about the world around her; she speaks with confidence (but never boastfully) to groups.
• Her voice is pleasant – she speaks distinctly and with enthusiasm.
• She is thoughtful to other people.
• She is in radiant health.
• She does not tire easily.
• She welcomes the opportunity to speak up for dairy farmers and the products they produce.
After the field had been whittled down to seven potential state princesses, the question/answer segment crept in. This is a key factor in the overall judging. “A news reporter asks you to describe the care a farmer provides his cows,” said Sattazahn. “How would you respond?” The question is geared to see how fast contestants are on their feet, how well they think and verbalize responses. The question is asked once, and then again, the space in between being ‘think time.’ The first response was “If a news reporter asked me how a farmer cares for his cows, I would tell him it all boils down to one thing. Happy cows make more milk. So everything a farmer does is done to keep his cows happy – the way he feeds them, the way he takes care of them, and the way he looks out for them every day. Everything is to make the cows happy so they can make more milk.” This candidate was the big winner of the night, the new state dairy princess. The others waited off stage while the question was asked and answered. Apparently, it would not have mattered if others overheard the question and answers; each one was very much on the same page, so it simply became a matter of how the answer was phrased. The last candidate who answered the question was as equally succinct as the first. She was Centre County’s Dairy Princess, the shortest Princess who stands at an even five feet, but she confessed to wearing four inch heels. The judges left the room to further whittle the seven down to three, the royal team for 2015-16. Meanwhile, outgoing Dairy Princess Ashley Mohn said her farewell before taking that last walk down the runway.
“An ancient Chinese philosopher said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step,” Mohn said. “On September 20th, 2014, Alternate Princesses Rachael Grosvenor and Carly Foose took out first steps as the new royalty team. That one step began the journey of a thousand miles. Fourteen thousand miles is what I traveled as Pennsylvania’s Dairy Princess.
“I may never realize the impact I have had on the dairy industry but I do realize the impact the dairy industry has had on me. My experience as Dairy Princess has been rewarding beyond words. I have been blessed in many ways, and I am extremely thankful to be a part of this industry. My parents showed me what determination, commitment and dedication are supposed to look like, and how to instill humility in everyday life. Their support means the world to me.” As she spoke, her alternates stretched arms across the vacant middle chair and held hands.
Sattazahn opened the judge’s envelope to announce the second alternate dairy Princess, Lydia Syzmanski of Erie County. There was a slight glitch in getting her tiara to fit and Sattazahn said “I think someone with a pretty wide head was trying that on earlier.” The first alternate was Cumberland County’s Morgan Brymesser. And Pennsylvania’s new reigning Dairy Princess for 2015-2016: Savannah Zanic from Huntingdon County.