On Saturday, Herbert and Shirley Anderson will be getting a well-deserved Parade Salute
Dairy Fest Parade Marshals honored for more than 50 years of contributions to the local milk industry
Patti Sells | News-Telegram Feature Editor

June 17, 2005 - Herbert and Shirley Anderson have been selected as this year’s Dairy Festival Parade Grand Marshals in the yearly celebration that pays tribute to the dairy farmer.

The 46th Annual Hopkins County Dairy Festival officially gets underway Saturday, June 11, with a parade that departs from Buford City Park at 11 a.m.

Herbert and Shirley were singled out for recognition this year for their notable accomplishments and contributions to the local dairy industry over the past half-century.

“This isn’t the first parade I’ve been in,” said Herbert, who claims he has participated in many throughout the years, including the county’s “first ever” Dairy Festival Parade that took place in 1959.

“I might as well get ready. This may be my last— hopefully,” he added lightheartedly.

According to both the Andersons, they were thrilled to be chosen to represent the dairy families of Hopkins County.

“It is really a great honor,” said Shirley. “The dairy industry has been good to us.”

Herbert and Shirley were both born and raised on family farms in Hopkins County back in the 1930s. Herbert’s father, Oscar Anderson, started out as a sharecropper, but the family made a name for themselves as show ring competitors, winning numerous ribbons and breaking county records with their Jersey cattle during 4-H events and later in Future Farmers of America, before making their way into the dairy business.

“Most of the agriculture in this area involved truck farming and cotton production when my dad first set up our dairy in the early 1940s, mostly with registered Jerseys,” said Herbert, who explained they switched to Holsteins later. “That was back when it really all started. I was just a kid running around barefoot. There weren’t too many dairies here back then. I remember the ones like Grover Sellers, Lee Teetes, Bill Palmer, Ed I. Palmer and Sterling Beckham. They really put a lot of effort and hard work to build up the dairy industry in Hopkins County.”

The Anderson family farm, 263 acres located three miles south of Sulphur Springs on Arbala Road, soon became one of the area’s leading dairy farms, and according to Herbert, it was a “family affair.”

“We grew up working on the family dairy farm, waking up at 2 a.m. to milk 60 or 70 cows and hauling hay in the evenings,” recalled Herbert, the eldest of three sons. “I followed in my dad’s footsteps when it came time for me to choose an occupation or career of my own. It was all I knew. I’d been doing it all my life. I loved it and really never had the desire to do anything else. It’s just in my blood, I guess.”

Herbert said by the time he graduated from Sulphur Springs High School in 1951, he already had quite a few cows of his own.

“We all started getting cows when we were young,” explained Herbert. “We had a heifer and just kept the increases. By the time we got out of school, we all had several cows Dad had given us. He was real good to us and helped us all get started.”

Herbert married Shirley in 1956 and became partners with his father and one of his brothers, who later ventured out with his own dairy operation.

“I stayed in business with my dad until he retired,” said Herbert, who later bought another dairy and some land across the road. The farm has now grown to 665 acres and 250 head of cattle, and Herbert and Shirley’s family grew, as well. The Andersons raised three daughters and one son on the family farm.

“To be a farm family is the most wonderful life anyone can have,” said Shirley, recalling the days of family picnics in the hayfield. “We all worked. The kids learned to rake hay and drive tractors. I never milked a cow, but I cleaned up after plenty of them.”

“It is a lot of hard work, but it has a lot of rewards,” agreed Herbert, who raised his only son, Morgan, alongside him working the farm.

“Morgan was following his daddy around and helping him when he was still in diapers,” Shirley exclaimed. “Herbert wired our old truck in granny gear so it would creep along, and Morgan would stand in the front seat of the truck and guide it while Herbert loaded the hay.”

Recently, Herbert passed the torch to his son when he handed over the family business this past January.

“He’s ready,” said Herbert of his 38-year-old son. “I trust him completely. He’s followed me around all his life, and it’s amazing how much we think alike. Our thinking is almost identical when it comes to decision making.”

Shirley said the two are extremely close, and while she had hoped Morgan would go on to college after high school, he told her “Mom, this is my life, and this is what I want.”

“He didn’t make a mistake,” she said. “The dairy has been so good to us all.”

With dairy related honors and awards dating back to his youth and into his adulthood, such as “Outstanding State Young Farmer” in 1958, “Agriculturalist of the Year” in 1974 and again in 1984, and Outstanding Conservation Farmer in 1982, Herbert and his family have served the dairy and beef cattle industry well throughout their lives.

Herbert said when he looks out across his fields he feels a great sense of pride, accomplishment and satisfaction.

“It makes you realize you’ve made some good decisions along the way,” he explained. “We’ve had lots of challenges, but the dairy business has been good to me and my family.

“We’ve made a good living off of it. It’s been a lot of hard work, but there has been lots of enjoyment, too.”

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