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This beloved Franklin County tradition won't have a pageant queen this year

 A man wearing a burgundy T-shirt with a cow graphic. Behind him are several fair rides
Elodie Reed
Vermont Public
Vermont Dairy Festival Chairman Pierre Boudreau says the Enosburg Falls Lions Club plans for the annual event year-round. 2023 marks the festival's 67th year running.

The 67th annual Vermont Dairy Festival kicked off this week in Enosburg Falls at the beginning of National Dairy Month.

Per tradition, it usually starts with the Scholarship Pageant Parade, featuring young women from around Franklin County competing for a collegiate scholarship.

But this year looks a little different. No eligible high school senior girls signed up to participate.

 A man in glasses and a yellow vest smiles against a yellow, green, and orange backdrop.
Elodie Reed
Vermont Public
Brent Garrow is the Pageant Director and President of the Lions Club in Enosburg Falls.

Pageant Director and President of the Lions Club Brent Garrow says this would have been the pageant’s 37th year. He’s shocked and said it was "disappointing" to see.

“I met with some of the senior girls and when it came time for the actual meeting, there were three of us here at the high school, we sat for an hour, and nobody came," Garrow said.

The pageant usually has upwards of 20 contestants and Garrow says there are around 200 eligible girls in Franklin County.

Participants are judged on a variety of categories like scholastic achievement, creative and performing arts, and appearance. The winner receives a scholarship towards college expenses.

"That's kind of too bad," said Kristi West, a native of Franklin County. "Because I know people that have gotten that before. And I think that ... you know, helps them with college."

Garrow could not point to a reason why contestants were not interested in participating, but hopes the event will return next year.

"Sometimes it takes something like this for you to stop and take a minute to appreciate the hard work that goes into our milk and our cheese and all the stuff that we put on our table."
Kristi West, Franklin County native

Even in the absence of the scholarship pageant, Franklin County residents say they're proud of the dairy festival's community tradition.

Kelli Garrow, an Enosburg Falls resident, has joined in the festivities her entire life.

"Because it's a small town, we don’t have much else. So this is the one thing all year everyone in Franklin County looks forward to," she said. "People come out from everywhere."

 Two photo side by side. The lefthand photo is a woman in a white tank top smiling sitting on a bench. People gather behind her. The righthand photo is a woman in a black tank top and sunglasses and hat smiling in front of fair rides.
Elodie Reed
Vermont Public
Kristi West, left, and Kelli Garrow have both been longtime attendees of the Vermont Dairy Festival.

Besides the community building, the event highlights dairy farmers' importance in Vermont. That's according to Kristi West, who attended the first day of the dairy festival Thursday and watched her granddaughter go on Midway rides and eat a candied apple.

"Sometimes it takes something like this for you to stop and take a minute to appreciate the hard work that goes into our milk and our cheese and all the stuff that we put on our table," West said. "The farmers put it there."

The festival runs through Sunday, June 4. Included on the schedule are a milking contest, bingo and live music.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

Julia Tanier was a News Intern during summer 2023.
Elodie is a reporter and producer for Vermont Public. She previously worked as a multimedia journalist at the Concord Monitor, the St. Albans Messenger and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, and she's freelanced for The Atlantic, the Christian Science Monitor, the Berkshire Eagle and the Bennington Banner. In 2019, she earned her MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Southern New Hampshire University.
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