RAGERSVILLE -- Outstanding dairy herds and individual cows were recognized, new royalty was crowned and dairy promotion discussed during the 2013 Tuscarawas County Dairy Farmers' annual banquet.

The event took place Feb. 28 in Ragersville Zion United Church of Christ with more than 100 dairy farmers and guests attending.

The dairy herds, in both official and unofficial categories, were recognized for production of milk, butterfat or protein and presented plaques or certificates. The unofficial category was added in 2004.

Also receiving plaques were most improved herds, high lifetime cows and low somatic cell count herds.

Plaques were presented to the following:

High herd in milk production, official (100 cows or less) Nathan Steel of Steel Lane Holsteins of Dover, for annual herd average of 28,940 pounds of milk; high official herd, 101 cows and over, Specht Farms Ltd., Ragersville, (Tim and Paula Specht, Brian Specht, and Scott and Adriann Specht) for an average of 28,321 pounds of milk.

High herd in milk production, unofficial, (100 cows or less): Ray Mutti, 892 Stonecreek Road SW, Stone Creek, for 24,661 pounds of milk; and (100 cows and over) Jim and Marcia Loveday of 6273 Winklepleck Road NW, Dundee, for 28,410 pounds of milk.

High herd in butterfat production, official (100 cows or less): Steel Lane Holsteins, for 1,499 pounds of butterfat; and (101 and over) Specht Farms Ltd, for 1,115 pounds of butterfat.

High herd in butterfat production, unofficial, (100 cows or less): Ray Mutti for 1,071 pounds of butterfat; and (101 cows and over) Quillin Dairy (Jan, Steve, Eric) 900 pounds of butterfat.

High herd in protein production, official, (100 cows or less): Steel Lane Holsteins for production of 930 pounds of protein; and (100 cows and over): Specht Farms Ltd for 894 pounds of protein.

High herd in protein production, unofficial, Ray Mutti for 767 pounds of protein; and (101 cows and over) Jim and Marcia Loveday for 820 pounds of protein.

Most improved herd, Merlin E. Troyer, official, for an increase of 1,943 pounds of milk. Leroy Yoder had the unofficial most improved herd with an increase of 2 949 pounds of milk.

The Jerry Horn family of 3629 Oldtown Valley Road SW was recognized for having the official high lifetime cow, while Welch Bros. Farms of Newcomerstown had the unofficial high lifetime cow.

Burky Farm LLC of Sugarcreek had the official low somatic cell count of 91,000, while Jim and Marcia Loveday had the unofficial low somatic cell count of 84,000.

Certificates were presented in a number of other categories for Holstein, Jersey and Brown Swiss cattle.

Brian Winters, DHI Cooperative general manager, who assisted in presenting the production awards to the top producers, said Tuscarawas County's dairy farmers continue to lead the state in all three production categories.

A total of 45 Tuscarawas County herds are currently on official and unofficial test. Of this number, 18 are official herds. Their county averages for 2012 are 24,469 pounds of milk, 906 pounds of fat and 756 pounds of protein.

State averages were 22,023 pounds of milk, 851 pounds of fat and 686 pounds of protein.

Chris Zoller, Ohio State University Extension Educator for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Tuscarawas County, noted that production records each year show that the quality of dairy in the county is good and continues to improve.

New royalty was chosen to represent the dairy farmers during 2013. Alyssa Lautzenheiser will serve as Senior Dairy princess, and Mikayla Horn was selected as the Junior Dairy princess.

Alyssa,16, is a daughter of Dan and Lorrie Lautzenheiser of 2383 Oldtown Valley Road, New Philadelphia; and Mikayla, 12, is a daughter of Jerry Jr. and Melissa Horn of 3629 Oldtown Valley Road New Philadelphia.

The new senior princess is a junior at New Philadelphia High School. She shows dairy heifers and market hogs as a 12-year member of Town & Country 4-H Club.

Alyssa works for Jimita Holsteins in Strasburg where she milks cows, and also works for her brother, Josh, on his grain farm, helping with field work and working on equipment in the shop.

"I think I will make a good representative for the Tuscarawas County Dairy Farmers because I love agriculture-it is my life! I love my job milking cows and just being on the farm," she said. "I hope this year goes well, and I am looking forward to all the upcoming events I will take part in as Senior Dairy Princess."

Mikayla, the new Junior Dairy Princess, is a seventh grader at Welty Middle School, where she is involved in National Junior Honor Society and is a seventh grade basketball cheerleader. She is active in TEC (Teens Encountering Christ) at Jerusalem Church.

This is Mikayla's eighth year as a member of Town & Country 4-H Club and she has been showing Brown Swiss dairy heifers for five years.

"Some of my favorite things to do are singing, dancing, cheering, showing dairy cattle and spending time with family and friends," she said. "I have wanted to be one of the dairy princesses ever since I was a little girl and believe I will be able to promote the dairy industry very well."

Jim Rowe spoke about dairy promotion and emphasized the importance of combating misconceptions, and educating parents, and school officials on keeping chocolate milk in schools as a drink for athletes and sports activities instead of other popular drinks.

Guest speaker was Paul Stutzman, former restaurant manager, who gave up his job following the death of his wife in 2008. At the age of 57, he began a hike of 2,176 miles from Georgia to Maine, later recording his experiences in a book "Hiking Through."

"Life almost never turns out the way we planned," he said. "Instead, everything depends on how we react to the twists and turns and surprises along the trail. I am now on a path I never imagined and I hope the books I write along the way help you, the reader, to find peace on your own journey home"

The idea for his second venture, a 5,000-mile bicycle ride from one corner of the United States to another, was born on his Appalachian Trail hike, but he found that venture to be quite different,

His bicycle trip led to Stutzman's second book," Biking Through." He has since written a third book "The Wanderers," a novel "based on the solid truths of the Scripture."

"God not only hiked and biked with me, He had much to teach me along the way," Stutzman concluded.