MERIDIAN — Meridian Dairy Days, an annual event that typically draws tens of thousands, was scaled back this year due to COVID-19. But the dairy show and Meridian Dairy Princess competition went on with safety precautions, and dozens of young agriculture enthusiasts went home with awards.
“Obviously this was a very different Dairy Days,” said Hans Bruijn, president of the Dairy Board, which in May canceled the annual parade, pancake feed, carnival, vendors and music in Storey Park. “We’re grateful that everyone understood why we had to cancel so much. It wasn’t an easy decision.”
Dairy Days went ahead with its dairy show, which allows young FFA and 4-H members, to show their livestock. The show was on one day, June 27, and was held in the infield of the Meridian Speedway, where attendees could practice social distancing. A few dozen kids participate in the show each year.
Bruijn said participation in the dairy show was about the same, if not higher, than last year. Premiums, the money awarded to participants for receiving awards, doubled this year, to $10 for gold ribbons, $8 for silver and $6 for bronze, Bruijn said, and will stay at that rate next year.
The Dairy Princess pageant was held virtually, with participants submitting video essays on COVID-19’s impact on agriculture and speaking with judges via a virtual meeting platform. This year’s Dairy princess is Kalyssa Safley. Ten girls participate in the pageant.
The Dairy Board chose to go ahead with the two events because “those are basically the foundation of Dairy Days,” Bruijn said.
“That’s how it started almost 100 years ago,” he said. “(It) started with some local farmers bringing out their animals to show.”
The board had financial losses from the canceled parade, vendors and other events, along with lost sponsors, but Bruijn said he doesn’t expect there will be a long-term impact.
“We’re financially solvent,” he said. “Hopefully next year those sponsors, and new sponsors, will come back if we have something to offer for them again. We’ll be back next year.”
To see the dairy show results, visit idahopress.com/meridian.