Annual June event entertains and showcases technology.
by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard's Dairyman Online Media Manager
Dane County is home to Wisconsin's state capital, Madison. But, on June 8, the focus went from the city to the country as the Dane County's 35th annual Breakfast was held in rural Waunakee at White Gold Dairy.
By car, bus, tractor or even bike, an estimated 5,000 people attended the annual event. Cars blanketed the fields, buses shuttled people to remote parking, tractors picked up guests and transported them on bleachers attached to flat-bed trailers. A few cycling groups even trekked it to the farm on the outskirts of town.
The crowds were huge with long lines for a hot breakfast, which included an hour wait through zig-zagged lines, as if you were in line for the debut of a new amusement park ride. Breakfast included pancakes, sausage, eggs, cheese and milk. The meal was even served by the Dairyland Dolls, the local roller derby team. Ice cream was available, too.
Following breakfast, guests could sit on straw bales for one of four musical performances, with the first starting at 8 a.m. Nashville recording artist, James Wesley, performed "Thank a Farmer," which can be heard in the video below. There were educational booths from breed associations, cellular service providers and even a dentist office. Bucky Badger even made an appearance.
Self-guided tours took visitors to the transition barn and tractor lineup. From an observation window, people looked down the parlor pit to see the cows being milked. For biosecurity, the new calf barn was not open to the public, but two calves were brought outside in individual pens for all to see and touch. The entrance to the calf barn allowed you to see the individual pens, ventilation system and the starwood rafters (which don't allow birds to rest on the rafters).
And the long lines were not just for food. Teams of draft horses pulled wagons full of curious people wanting a tour of the 1150-cow herd and facilities, which included a manure digester. The line spanned the length of the freestall barn.
A first in Wisconsin, this digester is a "community digester" with two other nearby dairies contributing. Staff from the anaerobic digester company were on hand to answer questions on the unit which was built in 2011. The energy generated is sold directly to Alliant Energy.
The event was a positive one for everyone involved. People with various levels of agriculture could experience a modern dairy operation first-hand. The retired locals could visit with neighbors and remember the days when they farmed. And, monies generated from the day fund local dairy related events, promotions and scholarships.
The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and frequently blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.
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