BEMUS POINT - It's not easy being royalty.
Friday night, the newest dairy princess for Chautauqua County was named. The decision was a close one for the judges, but they decided on 17-year-old Samantha Nickerson from Clymer.
This year's finalists were Nickerson and 16-year-old Ariel Slaven. Slaven is the daughter of Melissa and Richard Slaven of Cassadaga. She attends Cassadaga Valley Central School, where she plays softball, basketball and is a cheerleader. She is a member of KEY club, history club, SADD, chorus, band, CVCS minstrels and participates in high school musicals. She has plans to attend Edinboro University after she finishes high school to earn a degree in physical education for children with special needs.
Samantha Nickerson, left, was crowned Chautauqua County Dairy Princess for 2013-14. Ariel Slaven, right, will serve as alternate.
P-J photo by Remington Whitcomb
Nickerson is the daughter of Brenda and Bert Nickerson. She attends Clymer Central School, where she is a member of the National Honor Society. She is her class treasurer and is involved in the Columbus Cowpokes 4-H club, the Chautauqua County Junior Holstein Club, and the Teens on Fire youth group. She plays volleyball and runs track and field, and works on her uncle's farm in Columbus, Pa., where she milks cows.
The Chautauqua County Dairy Princess pageant, which is now chaired by Robin Ormond, has been a tradition in Chautauqua County for decades. The dairy princess hopefuls met with the judges for a brief personal interview, then gave a presentation to the audience at the Bemus Point United Methodist Church about why dairy is important.
"Kids don't really appreciate getting milk in school, or their parents buying them milk," said Slaven. "I didn't really like it for the longest time either, but milk is essential to good nutrition, and it's evident that kids don't get enough calcium. I'd really like to help to promote the dairy industry because I understand how important milk is to good health."
"I think that farmers do a lot for us, so I think that we should recognize them a little more, and that includes promoting the dairy that they produce," said Nickerson.
In her presentation, Nickerson explained some of the basic functions of the farmer, the livestock and the machinery on a standard dairy farm found in Chautauqua County. Nickerson's presentation was geared toward children of kindergarten age to sixth graders. She used the aid of a few homemade props, as well as many photographs. One photograph showed a cow smiling with a full set of teeth, and Nickerson explained why such a photo can't be real.
"Just like you do with your pets, farmers want to make sure their cows are happy," said Nickerson. "But this cow I'm showing can't be real. Cows don't really have top teeth; cows only have bottom teeth with hard upper gums to help them chew their food."
Slaven's presentation, which was geared for children ages 5-13, focused on the environmental, animal and nutritional practices surrounding the dairy industry. Slaven used posterboard with quick facts as well as other farmed-themed props for her presentation.
"Most children think it is easy to get three servings of dairy a day, but in actuality, only 30 percent of teenage boys and 12 percent of teenage girls get three servings of dairy a day," said Slaven. "But it is easier than some think. A bowl of cereal with breakfast, a cup of yogurt with lunch and a glass of milk at night gets the job done."
Although Nickerson won the competition, Slaven will serve as the alternate Dairy Princess for Chautauqua, and in the event that Nickerson cannot attend an event, Slaven will attend instead. Slaven has the opportunity of running again next year for Dairy Princess.
Following the announcement of the winner, Nickerson had the opportunity of being crowned by her older sister, Katrina Nickerson, who served as Chautauqua's Dairy Princess the previous year.