The brigade of eight malt wagons that travel to local events across the state received a facelift just in time for the summer season. As part of the "People Behind the Product" marketing initiative, the malt wagons' graphics have been replaced with new images of dairy producer families and a veterinarian. The new photos and designs also display facts about the benefits of dairy, the industry in Minnesota and how dairy farmers provide excellent animal care.
The Malt Wagons are also being used to deliver information about Fuel Up to Play 60, the dairy checkoff's partnership with the National Football League that encourages people to eat healthy and get 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
Several panels feature and identify specific people. Nate and Shannon Kuball and their son, Keegan, from Waterville are pictured on one graphic. Another includes Doug and Kathy Corrigan of Foley (as seen here). Veterinarian Kevin Nigon from Plainview is on a third. Each graphic is nearly 50 inches wide and 70 inches tall.
The 10-year-old wagons, owned and operated by Midwest Dairy's Minnesota Division, are rented by local American Dairy Association groups, 4-H clubs or others for use at community events such as festivals and county fairs. Along with the new graphics, the wagons serve up malts and shakes in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and often a special flavor.
The malt wagon program began in 1976, as dairy producers wanted to replicate the demand for the products served at the Minnesota State Fair Dairy Bar in their own communities. The funds for maintaining the wagons come from the proceeds from the Midwest Dairy's concession at the Minnesota State Fair. Local groups pays a portion of the program's cost through a rental fee, but ultimately the malt wagons are a promotional and fundraising opportunity for the local groups, which set their product price to cover their costs and keep any net profit.
This year, malt wagons are scheduled at a total of 77 events. The first wagon went out in May, but the bulk of the events happen between mid-July and mid-August. The last wagon goes out on September 18.