Prepared by Michael Davis, Contract Journalist
Politicians of all stripes and jurisdictions saluted Oregon's official beverage on Dairy Day at the State Capitol.
Senate President Peter Courtney, emcee of the "A Toast to Milk" proceedings in the Capitol Gallery, admitted that, despite protestations from his wife, he drinks it right out of the carton at home. Sen. Courtney, in his signature style, jockeyed with his colleagues and went off script more than he stayed with it.
House and Senate leadership (Senator Ted Ferrioli, Representative Mike McLane and Representative Jennifer Williamson) joined Courtney in marking the 20th anniversary of the official stature awarded to the bounty that is produced by cows at 228 farms in Oregon.
The toast might have been the highlight of the day had there not been free ice cream scooped out to the throng assembled at 2:30 p.m. Attendees formed a line that easily was half a city block long as legislators, aides, lobbyists, journalists, assorted state workers and a gaggle of kids waited to be served their cup of Umpqua ice cream.
The allure of that frozen treat brought together Republicans, Democrats, Independents and maybe even a member or two of the Whig party. It seems the quality of Oregon ice cream is the one topic upon which everyone can agree.
Gov. Kate Brown started the proceedings at 9 a.m. by signing two Dairy Day-related proclamations and meeting with the 2017 Dairy Princess Ambassador, Kiara Single, and First Alternate, Kortni Ragsdale. They were introduced by their state senator, Betsy Johnson, and Representative Brad Witt during Floor Sessions in both Chambers.
Elected officials in both the House and Senate hailed the dairy industry -- and its royalty -- in twin ceremonies.
Kiara and Kortni later made the rounds at the Capitol, as did teen members of the FFA, who delivered yogurt, chocolate milk and other ice-cold dairy products to legislative staff members on the upper floors of the Capitol.
At mid-morning, people milling about the Gallery sampled cubes of Oregon cheese. While nibbling, many took time to admire the cherry trees in full bloom across from the main entrance of the Capitol.
Teams of statewide volunteers from the dairy industry fanned out across the Capitol to meet with legislators regarding pending bills before the Senate and House. Early reports indicated the volunteers were successful in sharing the concerns of the industry.