Belle Dallam follows in mother's, older sister's, footsteps as Miss Harford Farm Bureau 2017

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Just about 30 years after Kate Dallam was named Harford County Farm Queen, her youngest daughter, Belle, was given the opportunity to represent Harford farmers when she was named Miss Harford County Farm Bureau 2017 Monday.

"I'm honored to have this opportunity, and I hope I make everyone proud," Belle, 17, said after she received her sash from Kimmi Doran, Miss Harford County Farm Bureau for 2016.

Belle is the second Dallam daughter to receive the honor; Emmy Dallam was named Miss Harford Farm Bureau in 2014.

The year's Miss Harford Farm Bureau selection was announced during the opening day of the 2017 Harford County Farm Fair at the Harford County Equestrian Center in Bel Air.

Belle, the daughter of Kate and David Dallam, owners of the Broom's Bloom Dairy farm in Bel Air, was the only contestant this year.

Kate Umbarger Dallam, 49, was crowned as the Harford Farm Queen for 1986-1987 when the county fair was held at the 4-H Camp at the Rocks in Street and was a much smaller event than it became over the ensuing three decades.

During Monday's contest, in honor of this year's 30th anniversary of the Farm Fair in its current form, Kate Dallam read the farewell speech she gave 30 years ago.

It was a speech written when she was a 19-year-old college sophomore. She recalled she had a part-time job checking farm fields for weeds and insects, and she was dating "the cutest farm boy in Harford County," her future husband, David.

She noted in her speech that her family had sold its dairy herd that year under a controversial federal program designed to reduce a nationwide milk surplus that was called Whole Herd Buyout. The Umbarger family was one of approximately 18 Harford dairy herd owners that voluntarily offered to sell and were accepted, The Aegis reported at the time, about 15 percent of the operating farms in the county at the time.

"Farming is a way of looking at things with an optimism and a hope that tomorrow is better than today," Kate Dallam said in her speech.

She also lamented that farmland in Harford County was disappearing for commercial and residential development.

Dallam stressed that "farming extends beyond the land to the person," however.

"A farmer will always be a farmer," she said.

Dallam and her husband established their dairy herd at Broom's Bloom on Route 543, which has been in the Dallam family since 1726. Kate and David Dallam are the first generation on that land to be dairy farmers, she noted.

They have three daughters: Josie, Emmy and Belle. Kate Dallam said later she is glad Belle won the Miss Farm Bureau contest, but it is most important that her daughter is able to educate the public about agriculture.

Belle is going into her senior year at St. Andrew's School, a private school in Middletown, Del. Belle plans to start applying to colleges in the fall, and she plans to study animal science with a dairy focus.

Belle noted, during her introductory speech, that many Americans are removed from farm life by several generations, but "I'm lucky enough to be the ninth generation to live on my" family's farm.

"I have developed a love of educating the public about agriculture," she said.

Belle is a member of 4-H, works full-time on the family farm with chores such as milking the cows and feeding the calves, works part-time at her family's on-site ice cream shop and restaurant, plus she runs the Broom's Bloom stand at the Bel Air Farmers Market.

Each Miss Farm Bureau contestant answers a random question. Belle's question was about what she has learned through working at the farmers' market.

"I have learned the importance of having a consumer-producer relationship," she said.

Customers can get answers about their food "directly from the source," the grower, and they can learn about where their food comes from "and agriculture in general."

Belle earned a $1,000 prize, which had been donated by the Farm Bureau Women's Committee and the Madonna Veterinary Clinic. She will represent Harford County in the Miss Maryland Agriculture Contest at the Maryland State Fair in Timonium Aug. 24.

Kimmi Doran, the Miss Farm Bureau 2016, gave a farewell speech. She was the fourth runner-up in the state contest last year.

She recalled attending many events during the past year, including being in Ocean City last summer for Gov. Larry Hogan's announcement that he had issued an executive order for all public school districts to start after Labor Day.

Hogan promoted it as a way to extend the summer break and support the state's businesses that depend on summer visitors.

"That was something that my 4-H club had worked hard to push," Kimmi said.

She explained later that youths in 4-H would no longer have to travel back and forth during the State Fair to show their animals and then return home for school. More people can attend the fair, too.

This year's State Fair ends on Labor Day, Sept. 4. The next day, Sept. 5, is the first day for Harford County Public Schools' 2017-2018 school year.

"Do all you can," Kimmi told her successor. "Every opportunity you get is going to teach you something or open another door."

Hannah Hill, of Bel Air, the 2016 Little Miss Harford Farm Bureau, also gave a brief farewell — this year's Little Miss will be named during the annual Farm Bureau picnic, which is Aug. 18 at Clear Meadow Farm, according to the contest program.

Olivia Huber, the mistress of ceremonies and Miss Harford Farm Bureau 2015, asked Hannah what she likes about the fair.

Hannah said she likes working at the ice cream stand and helping to hand out ribbons.

"I get to show my heifer!" she exclaimed.

Hannah Amoss Watt received a gift of flowers from Huber in honor of her final year as coordinator of the Miss Farm Bureau contest.

Watt was the final Farm Queen in 2002. She took over as coordinator of the contest in 2004, when the title was changed from Agriculture Ambassador to Miss Farm Bureau.

"It was time, and I couldn't think of a better contestant to go off with than Belle and the Dallam family," said Watt, who is recently married and has moved to Carroll County.

Olivia Huber and Emmy Dallam will work with the Women's Committee to coordinate next year's contest, she said.

"It's been wonderful," Watt said. "It's neat to see those girls grow up."

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