WATERTOWN — Hands squeezing. Cows stomping. Entrants sprinting to the judge’s table to fill their team’s pitcher of milk.
It was a fast moo-ving scene as groups put their farm skills to the test for the Jefferson County Fair’s Celebrity Milk-Off.
“I feel like working on a farm,” said Debra L. Rieger, a first-time entrant competing with the 911 Udder Chaos team.
The long-running contest brought out nine teams, representing a wide range of local businesses and political and community organizations, to collect as much milk as they could.
“A lot of them like the competition,” said Martha A. Petrie, a fair manager who has been with the event since 1991. “Some have never milked before; others are dead ringers.”
Regardless of background, all were willing to get their hands dirty.
“Two hands, Addie, two hands,” Judy A. Aldrich called out as Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell took her turn milking.
At times, the competition turned into a contact sport, with the cows rotating from their place on the fence, knocking down cups.
“Considering they like being milked in a quiet barn, they’re doing good,” said Corey M. Hayes, representing a team from the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County.
“Makes it exciting,” said his teammate Kevin J. Jordan, the extension’s executive director.
For the winning team, The Queen and Her Court, the key was experience.
Team member Rena M. Fields, a former farmer who has held a variety of roles in the region’s dairy community, said she had 50 years of practice going into Thursday night.
“I have people tell me they wouldn’t want to compete against me,” she said, with a laugh. “It’s all fun.”
In other results, the 911 Udder Chaos Team came in fifth, Cookies and Milk came in fourth, CCE and the 2nd Place Milk Duds came in third and Poppa’s Team came in second.
Video of the competition can be seen at http://wdt.me/jeffco-milkoff.