Betty Brice, wearing the tell-tale white gloves after she was crowned the 1961 Dairy Festival Queen. The Queen was the only one allowed to wear the long white gloves in the early days of the pageant.
The Golden Jubilee
Dairy Festival Queen: In the early days, it was all about the gloves
By TERRY MATHEWS, News-Telegram Arts Editor
July 27, 2008 - When 1961 Dairy Festival Queen contestant Betty Brice Chapman saw pageant coordinator Lena Maye Rogers headed toward her with a pair of long white gloves, her heart must have skipped a beat.
"On the night of the pageant, they only allowed the queen to wear gloves," Chapman explained in an e-mail. "Just before I was announced queen, Mrs. Rogers handed them to me. I managed to sneak to the corner of the door and wave my gloves to my family in the audience, so they had a little advance notice that I was the new queen."
In the first years of the annual event, the contestant who sold the most tickets earned the honor of representing the dairy industry and Hopkins County for the next year.
Betty Brice Chapmantoday lives near Austin, but returns to Hopkins County frequently because her mother still lives here.
Staff Photo By Angela Pitts
"I can remember going every afternoon after school to sell tickets," Chapman said. "I tried to get people from different parts of the county to go with me and introduce me around."
Chapman even got her parents and her parents' friends to help her.
"My parents, the late Carl Brice and Wilma Brice, were a big help," she explained. "I also remember how hard the Koon family worked on my behalf. Wilbur Koon, Brody and Mary Koon took me everywhere -- even out of the county -- to meet their friends and ask them to buy tickets from me."
Chapman was a 16-year-old sophomore at Sulphur Springs High School when she won the title. Her family had ties to the dairy industry.
"My mother worked at AMPI when it first opening," she said, referring to Associated Milk Producers Inc., now Dairy Farmers of America. "My grandparents, Roy and Bessie Vaden, owned a dairy in the old Tarrant community."
When her aunt, Lucy Vaden, and Essie Pearson asked her to represent Mother's Culture Club in the pageant, Chapman was thrilled.
"The pageant was held in the gymnasium, behind what is now the [Sulphur Springs ISD] administration building," she said. "It had been transformed into a beautiful ballroom, with chandeliers and all."
According to the 1961 program, the theme for the pageant was "Fantasy in Dairyland." Roy Martin was the narrator. Mrs. Buford Scott served as the organist. Court soloist was Jay Ward. Jimmie Chapman and Johnny Sickles served as court heralds. Larry Booker Jr. and Frank Wright were Court Jesters. Queen's attendants were Cherri Chapman and Phyllis Erck. Bettie's escort for the evening was Jerry Matthews.
The 16 contestants competing with Chapman for the title were:
-- Carolyn Hammond -- sponsored by Treble Clef Club and escorted by Harvey Fails
-- Marsha Hendrix -- sponsored by Junior Waverly Club and escorted by Johnny Motes
-- Joyce Kennimer -- sponsored by Arbala Home Demonstration Club and escorted by Larry Mabe
-- Bettie Robinson -- sponsored by Saltillo 4-H and escorted by Mike Jackson
-- Judy Kay Chapman -- sponsored by Dial Study Club and escorted by Barry Camp
-- Pat Marts -- sponsored by Gafford Chapel Progress Club and escorted by Phil Marts
-- Kay Kimmons -- sponsored by Pickton High School and escorted by Price Minter
-- Jo Beth Jennings -- sponsored by Standard Club and escorted by David Sewell
-- Kay Gene Craver -- sponsored by Lions Cub and escorted by Mike Nabors
-- Freda Underwood -- sponsored by Saltillo FFA and escorted by Larry Fite
-- Betty Dildy -- sponsored by Waverly Club and escorted by Hank Smith
-- Nan Irvin -- sponsored by Rotary Club and escorted by G.V. Hughes Jr
-- Sammie Long -- sponsored by North Hopkins School and escorted by Tommy Griggs
-- Sarah Lily -- sponsored by Morning Arts Garden Club and escorted by Chris Carothers
-- Linda Loyd -- sponsored by Sulphur Springs FFA and escorted by Joe Rorie
-- Tommie Binkley -- sponsored by Sulphur Springs Dairy Auction and escorted by Billy Gene Gibson
After high school, Chapman attended North Texas State University and became an English teacher.
"I returned to Sulphur Springs in 1971 and taught at Miller Grove High School until my daughter, Jennifer, was born," Chapman said. "After that, I taught at Como-Pickton until my son, Trey, was born. After both of my children went to grade school, I taught at Sulphur Springs High School."
In addition to teaching and raising her children, Chapman found time to give back to the community.
"I was privileged to serve on the Dairy Festival Board," she said. "My father had been on the board for years, so I knew it meant a lot of work, but it was an honor to serve with such dedicated and hard-working members."
She liked planning all the activities during the Dairy Festival, but her favorite job was working on the annual parade.
"When my children were preschool age, they participated in the parade," she explained. "They had to have costumes that carried out the theme for the year. I also decorated golf carts for them to ride on."
Chapman remembers a particular incident -- her funniest memory of the Dairy Festival Pageant -- with her son Trey.
"He was about 4 or 5 at the time and was supposed to present a red rose to one of the contestants, as were several other little boys his age," she said. "He got in a fight with Ryan McKenzie on stage while all of the contestants stood on the stage waiting for the queen to be announced."
According to Chapman, several people had to go get the boys and pull them off the stage so the show could go on.
"Bruce Felden, Dairy Festival president at the time, has always called it the Dairy Festival's 'Boxing Match,'" she said.
Divorced in 2006, Chapman currently lives in Austin, near her daughter Jennifer Banda, Jennifer's husband, Burke, and their two children, Brice (4) and Lizzie (4 months).
"My son Trey and his wife Melissa live in Dallas with their 8-month old son, Tyler," she said.
Chapman says her greatest pleasure is being with her family and friends. She says she babysits "every chance she gets."
She also loves traveling. She went to Spain this spring with her sister, Carla, and her husband, Peter Daly. She was on a tour of Northern California when we reached her last week for some follow-up questions. She also tries to get back home as often as she can."
"Since my mother is still in Sulphur Springs, I return to Hopkins often," she said.
She is looking forward to the golden anniversary of the Dairy Festival.
"Congratulations to the Dairy Festival Board for working 50 years to put on such a fabulous event highlighting Hopkins County."
More information from the 1961 pageant program
Jean Turlington, Grand Saline; Ann Morris, Mount Vernon; Sandra Cave, McKinney; Helen Ann Ray, Longview; Maureen Anderson, Terrell; Hida Kay Blackburn, Mount Pleasant; Sandra Cheatam, Naples; Pat Lawler, Cooper; Sue Adams, Winnsboro; Patsy Reep, Mineola; Carolyn Ann Graham, Tyler; and Connie Johnson, Paris.
General Chairman: Billy Conner
Rules Committee: J. W. Branscome, Chairman; Pageant Directors
Decoration: Mrs. Wayne Melton; Mrs. Pete Wright; Mrs. Joe Woosley; Mrs. M.D. Merrell; Mrs. T.A. Robertson
Costume Design: Mrs. Maude Winans
Queens Arrangement: Mrs. Charlie Jackson; Mrs. Gerald Thomas
Court Program: Mrs. Weldon Branscome
Parade Co-Chairmen: Walter Williams; Richard Anderson; Jim Anderson
Homes for Duchesses: Mrs. Zimmie Bell
Queens Party Arrangements: Mrs. Roy Vaden and Hopkins County Home Demonstration Clubs
Crown Designers: Mrs. A.A. Tetts and Mrs. B.T. Lilly
Lighting: Larry Milligan, Weber Fouts, Bill Chapman and DeVoe Carter
Organ: Courtesy of Murray Funeral Home
(Editor's Note: In June 2009, the Hopkins County Dairy Festival will celebrate its golden anniversary. Over the next 50 weeks, the News-Telegram plans to visit with former Dairy Festival queens to reminisce about the festival, the pageant and what it meant to wear the crown.)