Events tied to city’s 150th anniversary

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lincoln County’s dairy farmers will be honored during June asBrookhaven’s 150th anniversary celebration joins the nationaltradition of declaring the next 30 days as Dairy Month.

Extension director Rebecca Bates said Lincoln County was thenumber two county in Mississippi in terms of dairy production,playing a large part in an industry that generated an estimated$277 million last year in the state. She said the county has 19dairies, which produced approximately 24 million pounds of milk in2007 – all done by a small collection of families working forthemselves.

“Basically, it’s a small number of people creating a lot ofeconomic movement,” she said. “These aren’t new people – these arefamilies that have been in the industry for generations. The hugedairy farms you find up north are normally owned by corporations,but Mississippi’s dairy farmers are independent folks.”

Bates pointed out the dairy industry ties together many otherindustries in the state, sitting atop a large network of severalagribusinesses.

For the average cow to produce slightly more than 5 gallons ofmilk per day, Bates said, each bovine requires 55 pounds of cornsilage, 35 gallons of water and 20 pounds of grain and feed. Thecounty’s dairies create business among other industries such asfeed, fertilizer, farm equipment and energy, fuel andtransport.

Bates said Lincoln County was a “huge” dairy producing county inthe past, but the industry has been dwindling throughout the areaand state in recent years. Despite the reduction, the industry yetmaintains a significant bearing on the local and stateeconomies.

“This is why we celebrate June as Dairy Month,” Bates said. “Wehonor dairy farmers’ history and the products they produce.”

The first honor to be bestowed upon county dairy farmers wasthis morning with the signing of a county proclamation declaringJune as Dairy Month.

The real fun begins Thursday when a dairy cook-off will be heldin the State Room beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Bates said the contest will be divided into two divisions -youth and adult – with three categories each: main dish, side dishand dessert. To qualify, each dish must contain a minimum of onecup of dairy product and a copy of the recipe must be presented -not only to insure compliance, but so that all in attendance maytrade ideas.

Taste-testing begins at 10 a.m., with a panel of dietitians andfood specialists as judges. At noon, ribbons and cash prizes willbe awarded to the first, second and third place finishers in eachdivision, and the overall winner will be presented with a trophy.All dishes then will be available for sampling.

Bates said the dairy cook-off was a favorite event druing dairymonth.

By creating a youth division and opening the contest to anywould-be chef in the county, she hopes it will grow this year. Shesaid the cook-off has averaged an attendance of 25 in the past.

“The more people, the more fun it is, the more people get totaste different dishes,” Bates said. “I want so many people that wehave to move out onto the sidewalk, and next year we have to moveto the Lincoln County Multi-Purpose Complex.”

The cook-off will also play host to a poster contest.

Any child who wishes to draw up a poster following the theme of”Dairy History” may submit such a poster to the extension office byTuesday. The posters will be displayed in the Brookhaven-LincolnCounty Chamber of Commerce throughout the month.

On Thursday, June 12, the Dairy Educational Seminar and Banquetwill be held at the Lincoln County Multi-Purpose Complex. The eventis not open to the public.

The month

The month’s final event will be held on Friday, June 20, at thePike County welcome center on Interstate 55.

In a tradition started years ago by Pike and Lincoln countyextension directors, northbound travelers will be greeted by adairy presentation featuring baked goods prepared by LincolnCounty’s Mississippi Homemaker volunteers and free milk procured byPike County. A band will perform, and dairy information will beprovided to visitors, who will be urged to visit Lincoln County asthey continue north.

The event begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m.