The year was 1969. A young teen, Marsha Leonard Anderson entered the Chautauqua County Dairy Princess Pageant in Western New York. The idea of competing made her nervous, but Marsha felt compelled to follow her older sister’s footsteps and at least try.
Sensing her anxiety, Marsha’s mother gave the teen advice that she heeds to this day, “My mom said to me – ‘Don’t worry, just keep eye contact with the audience. Talk loud and clear, and slow enough for everybody to hear what you’re saying.” That advice is what helped her win, swears Marsha.
Crowned Chautauqua County Dairy Princess in June, Marsha went onto compete in the 1969 New York State Dairy Princess Pageant which, back then, coincided with the New York State Fair in August. Marsha didn’t think she stood a chance at winning. “I think I was the shortest one there. You always think of a tall, stately girl for a dairy princess, and here I was.” To her surprise, she won again.
Being a State Dairy Princess, Marsha made lots of promotional appearances. She was in parades and posed with butter sculptures. She gave talks at schools, teaching children about farm life and how farmers care for their animals. In the dairy aisle of grocery stores, she handed out dairy product samples to customers. There were some unique opportunities, too.
Marsha recalls having appeared with a cow on The Tonight Show, at that time hosted by Johnny Carson, and taking a helicopter ride with the popular 60’s singer Bobby Vinton to promote the local county fair. “All of it was a great experience for me! I wouldn’t have had these opportunities if I hadn’t been a dairy princess,” said Marsha. She was most excited to have met and have her photo taken with Miss New York and The Dairy Queen of England and Wales.
While her path in life has taken her elsewhere, Marsha loves visiting her family dairy farm, now owned and operated by her brother. She continues to advocate for farmers when given the opportunity. The former New York State Dairy Princess donned on a crown and sash once more, for the 50th anniversary unveiling of the 2018 New York State Fair Butter Sculpture.
As county dairy princesses from around New York State prepare to participate in the Annual New York State Dairy Princess Pageant, we wish them: Good luck!
Marsha’s Words of Wisdom
- Remember my mom’s advice with any kind of public speaking: Keep eye contact with the audience. Talk loud and clear, and slow enough for everybody to hear what you’re saying.
- Be proud of your title and achievement – whether county or state - share it with everybody you see and meet.
- Realize what a strong background you have with all the farmers behind you, supporting you.
"Giving up the crown was much more traumatic for me because I was so excited and so shocked to to be the New York State Dairy Princess." ~ Marsha Anderson Leonard
American Dairy Association North East is one of 19 state and regional promotion organizations working under the umbrella of the United Dairy Industry Association. It is the local affiliate of the National Dairy Council®, which has been conducting nutrition education and nutrition research programs since 1915. For more information, visit www.americandairy.com.