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Dairy princess shares noble nature of farmers’ lifestyle

Posted 7/10/21

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another installment in a series of columns highlighting the area’s agricultural community. Hi, my name is Shelby Carrigan, and I am the 2021-2022 Oneida County Dairy …

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Dairy princess shares noble nature of farmers’ lifestyle


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another installment in a series of columns highlighting the area’s agricultural community.

Hi, my name is Shelby Carrigan, and I am the 2021-2022 Oneida County Dairy Princess. I am the daughter of John and Geraldine Carrigan, and I was raised in Marcy with my older brother, John. In December, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Utica College, concentrating in Early Childhood and Childhood Education.

Other than being the Oneida County Dairy Princess and continuing to pursue my childhood dream of becoming an elementary school teacher, I am also the new founder and owner of Heart & Sole Dance Studio in Barneveld.

Growing up, I spent most of my days at my grandparents’ (Claude Jr. and Patricia Coe) dairy farm in Holland Patent. Their farm, Elijah Park, also known as Coe Farms, has been around since 1958. They began farming in Holland Patent at a very young age, owning very little; they had only one tractor, a manure spreader, and a hay wagon.

Each year, my brother and I would spend our summers at the farm with our grandparents and cousins. As soon as we were dropped off in the morning, we ran into the barn where my brother would help my grandfather and uncle finish milking, and I would help my grandmother feed the calves. After the cows were milked and the calves were fed, we turned out the cows across the road, into our morning pasture. Then, I would grab the barn scraper and begin cleaning the cows’ stalls and the barn floor.

From there, I would help finish feeding hay to the heifers and clean the milkhouse with my grandmother. My favorite days on the farm are when we do hay. Although these days are excruciatingly hot— and unloading a wagon in the hay barn does not make it any better — I always felt the relationships with my family grow from working together; I have become a very family-oriented person, and I believe it is all because of the time spent on the farm, creating everlasting bonds and lifelong memories.

After a long afternoon of field work, we bring the cows in. Once all the cows are accounted for and are safely back in their stalls, we sit down as a family and eat dinner, catching up on the day’s work and the future ahead. Shortly thereafter, our evening milking begins. As my grandfather, uncle, and brother milked the cows, my grandmother and I would return to feeding the calves. As soon as all of our cows were milked, we began to turn them out into our night pasture where they graze and rest for the night. We then repeated our morning tasks of cleaning the barn and feeding the animals.

Once the new school year arrived, my involvement on the farm did not change, for my family and I spent every weekend there as well. After 63 years, our small family farm continues to thrive. Although the roles of my family members have changed, farming still remains an active part of mine and my family’s lives.

Today, even though my active role on the farm has been reduced, my tasks still remain the same. In addition to my involvement on our family farm, I also spend my days on my boyfriend’s, Austin, family farm in Lewis County as well.

Becoming the Oneida County Dairy Princess has always been of extreme importance to me. Since being born into a generation of farmers, I have always been an advocate. I’ve been known for sharing my experiences of farming and educating my peers who were not as familiar with the lifestyle.

Once I learned about our county’s dairy promotion and the responsibilities of being a county princess, my family encouraged me to run; after three years of being a part of the Oneida County Dairy Promotion, I began my reign as princess. The purpose of our program is to promote the dairy industry, and increase milk and dairy product sales. We are funded by local dairy farmers through their checkoff investment in the American Dairy Association North East.

As princess, one of my duties is to promote dairy products to the public. In just a few short weeks, one of my favorite events in Central New York will be returning — the 133rd annual Boonville Oneida County Fair. Be sure to visit us at our booth, Oneida County Dairy Promotion, where you will be able to purchase fresh milk, local cheese curds, t-shirts, and more! My court and I will also be participating in the Oneida County Boonville Fair parade on Tuesday, July 27, at 7 p.m.

Looking ahead, my court and I are very excited to be a part of the upcoming events happening within our community and throughout the state. In addition to attending the county fair this month, we will also be scooping ice cream at The Free Hugs project event at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Oriskany, on Thursday, July 22, from 5 to 7 p.m.

I am excited that in this role I can be an advocate for dairy farmers, who like my family, know first hand the joys, and hard work, involved.

— For comments, e-mail photojournalist John Clifford at


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