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Historical photo: A float in the Tillamook June Dairy Parade

June is Dairy Month! And since Tillamook County is a proud dairy community, the county is gearing up for fun and festivities and celebrating with the June Dairy Parade on Saturday, June 25.

The national June Dairy Month promotion got started in 1937. But it appears that Tillamook was so proud of its dairy industry that the first local dairy celebration was held in the 1920s, so says an old-timer who watched the parade as a young lad. I don’t know what happened in all the years after that first parade, but the beginning of the annual celebration as we know it today kicked off in 1957.

Tillamook’s first June Dairy Month celebration had a number of activities, including a cow milking contest for the local mayors. Bob Ely, who was festival chairman and a TCCA employee, stated that “a good time was had by all,” even though the parade was delayed by rain. Nowadays the parade is held rain or shine. What’s a little rain?

By 1961 the event had turned into a festival. Four mayors competed in the cow milking contest; the Lions and Kiwanis groups held a tug-of-war contest; there were milk drinking and ice cream eating contests for fifth and sixth grade boys; two dances were held and, of course, the fourth annual June Dairy Parade, which concluded with the coronation of the Tillamook County Dairy Princess.

In 2003, TCCA began sponsoring the parade in an effort to keep the tradition active in the community. Today, Tillamook County’s June Dairy Parade is one of Oregon’s largest parades, averaging about 150 entries.

The 2011 parade will be Saturday, June 25, at 11 a.m. Come and join the fun!

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