September marks the 50th All-American Dairy Show, and since the first event in 1964, six Pennsylvania farm families have remained fixtures in the show ring and behind the scenes. They are the Yoder family of Pinesedge Farm, Shoemakersville, Berks County; Patrick family of Maple Dell Farm, Woodbine, Md.; Marchezak family of Twin Brook Farm, Bentleyville, Washington County; Gable family of Snider Homestead Farm, New Enterprise, Bedford County; Stiles family of Spring Valley Farm, Westminster, Md.; and Shank family of Palmyra Farm, Hagerstown, Md. Each family will be recognized in a feature story as the show approaches.
The All-American Dairy Show features 22 shows in six days in addition to the nation's only all-dairy antiques show. Last year's show featured nearly 2,500 animals and more than 900 exhibitors from across the nation.
Seven generations strong, the Snider Homestead Farm family of New Enterprise, Bedford County, will make their 50th trip to the All-American Dairy Show in September.
Purchased by John and Amanda Snider in 1892, the farm is now home to great-great-granddaughter Berneta (Snider) and Brad Gable and their family.
When Berneta's father Bernard and uncle Obie took over the farm, they continued the family's tradition of milking Guernsey cattle. Obie later purchased the nearby Singing Brook Farm and began milking Holsteins.
A Show is Born
On a long trip home from the 1960 National Dairy Show in Waterloo, Iowa, Obie and former Pennsylvania Holstein Association Executive Director William Nichol hatched an idea. They envisioned a national dairy show in Pennsylvania that would showcase exceptional cattle on the East Coast.
They enlisted the help of several strong breed industry leaders, including Ayrshire breeder Cuthbert Nairn and Milking Shorthorn breeder Sam Yoder, who brought the show to fruition just four years later.
Obie served as president of the All-American from 1971 until he died in 2003.
Today the show's most prestigious honor is the Obie Snider Award, recognizing an individual who, like its namesake, places significant value in service to the industry and community and displays high standards of conduct.
Berneta, the 2007 award recipient, reflected on the award's personal significance, "Uncle Obie was my mentor, and it was an honor to receive an award in memory of someone I've tried to pattern my life after."
An All-American Family
Berneta's four siblings, Bernard (known as "Tweet"), Beth, Birch and Bobbie, exhibited at the Pennsylvania Junior Dairy Show. Tweet and Birch led the showing charge until Berneta returned home to the farm after graduating from Penn State University.
Berneta and Brad's son Aaron, along with his wife Amy (Liggett) and daughters Bella and Blaire, are on the original homestead where they milk 122 Guernseys and 30 Holsteins. The Gables, along with two full-time employees and two part-time high school students, farm 400 acres, growing 100 acres of corn, 20 acres of barley and 200 acres of alfalfa and grass hay to balance the pasture. Daughter Kendy lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., working in a farm-to-fork restaurant and pursuing a career as a singer-songwriter.
Berneta and the family continue to support the All-American. She serves on the show's board of directors and the Image Award selection committee. Snider Homestead Farm is an annual class and champion sponsor.
In recent years, Snider Homestead Guernseys have earned significant show ring success at the All-American, exhibiting class winners, champions and receiving many premier breeder and exhibitor banners, including consecutive honors from 2006 through 2012. Sniders Telestar Heaven was the family's first Grand Champion winner in 1993, and proved to be a bittersweet moment for Berneta whose father died just two months before the show.
Other show victories include Reserve Grand Champion in 1991; 1996 Grand Champion with Guerndale Fayette Robin and Reserve Grand Champion with Sniders Fayettes I Century; 1999 Grand Champion of the Junior Show with Sniders OPP Georgi; Cedarfringed Altann took Grand Champion in 2000 and 2001; and the 2008 Intermediate Champion was Sniders Tiller Gala.
Leaving Their Mark
This year's All-American won't just be the 50th year the Snider family walks Harrisburg's tanbark trail, it'll be a year of tremendous accolades for decades of work.
The National Dairy Shrine will recognize Berneta with the 2013 Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder award because of her family's worldwide renown in breeding quality and sought-after Guernsey genetics. The award will be presented at the National Dairy Shrine Banquet on Wednesday, Sept. 11.
"The All-American is special because it is something our family has done together since it began," said Kendy, adding that it is a place to meet new people and connect with old friends.
"We all have the same love of dairy cows no matter what breed, and we enjoy the competition to see how our animals compare," she said. "Everyone at the show is there because of dairy cattle, and we look forward to it every year."