Inside Look at World Dairy Expo

Hello there Bonnie Mohr fans --Alyssa here with Bonnie Mohr Studio. :) The following is a column about World Dairy Expo (WDE) I wrote last week for our local newspaper in Silver Lake. It was my very first year at Expo, so I was delighted to be able to share the incredible experience of this epic dairy event.   For those who have never been to WDE, or have no idea what happens at this event held each October in Madison, WI - I thought it'd be fun to share with you an inside view of this big happening and Bonnie Mohr Studio's 27th year as an exhibitor, so follow along for an inside look at World Dairy Expo...

Quite a show at World Dairy Expo
By Alyssa Schauer

Travels this last month led me around the Midwest, from a friend's country wedding in Illinois to Madison, Wis., where cows ruled the city for five days at World Dairy Expo. World Dairy Expo is something so incredibly unique (and not what you'd expect), that I have to gush a bit. Of course, I found myself there with Bonnie Mohr and company to work her booths (yes, multiple) and help promote her art and sell her work.

She has been attending Expo for 27 years, and this year, I had the great pleasure of joining her and meeting many dairy enthusiasts, including people from over 90 countries around the world. I had the chance to talk with people from Australia, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Peru, Honduras, Israel, Japan, China, and of course, Canada and Mexico.

Expo is known as the biggest international event of the year for the dairy industry. Many international people travel to Wisconsin during this event to study dairy farming techniques in the United States and to check out the latest in dairy technology and genetics. There are several buildings set up with many booths in each one promoting products for animal nutrition, farm equipment, agricultural media and the like, not to mention creameries offering free samples of cheese and organic butter.

The cheese booth was about 20 feet long, and had plates of fresh cheese curds lining the width of the tables. You started at one end with a toothpick and traveled down the line, trying Muenster, Cheddar, mozzarella, pepperoni, ranch, and taco-flavored cheese curds. And the organic butter was to die for—simply delicious. Needless to say, it was all divine. And I haven't even gotten to the ice cream stand yet, where they promoted three different ice creams each day. Of course, I had to indulge in the "Caramel Collision" and "Butter Pecan."

To top it all off, the Badger Dairy Club of the University of Wisconsin-Madison had a grilled cheese stand conveniently placed between the two buildings where Bonnie's booths were located, so I had the chance to try both their Swiss and American grilled cheese sandwiches. And the food is just one of the best characteristics of Expo.

Throughout the week, cows from each dairy breed are shown and grand champions are "crowned," and on Saturday, the last day of the event, a "Supreme Champion Cow" is chosen out of the grand champions. It could be described as the "Miss America Pageant" for cows. I couldn't believe how gorgeous those cows looked, and I'm pleased to announce I can now tell the difference between a Brown Swiss and a Jersey cow.

I was able to peek into the coliseum on Saturday to watch a bit of this "Supreme" show. Imagine a large coliseum, with rows and rows of red, padded movie-theater seats climbing to the ceiling, looking down on the oval-shaped arena covered in orange-colored shavings. The seats are filled with dairy lovers, and the lights are dimmed as the emcees announce each cow into the ring. Whispering voices buzz through the building in anticipation, and the coliseum goes dark as a spotlight is shone on the cow and its owner.

They parade through the arena and the coats of the cows glisten under the spotlight. The cows walk with grace as if they know they're the best of the breed. At the end of the introductions, a carriage drives out from behind the black curtains, holding a royal blue sash that is placed over the shoulder blades of the winning cow. This year's winner was a black and white Holstein, Hailey, from Quebec, and I had the lovely opportunity to meet the owners and even speak a little French, not to mention discuss travel opportunities to go visit them!

And these are just a few of the unforgettable memories from World Dairy Expo. There will be more columns about this adventure in the future, especially since I forgot to mention I also met some Amish people, and I am setting up a time to stay with them and learn their way of life for a few days. That should produce plenty of good writing material, no?

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Hope you enjoyed that "inside look!" Happy Fall!

Alyssa