Scores of people deserve credit for being the driving force that launched the World Food and Agricultural Foundation in 1967. Fort Atkinson, Wis., Holstein breeder Allen Hetts was probably the most responsible for bringing the show to life because of his volunteerism, energy, contacts and unwavering determination. It's those qualities that breathed life into the fledgling show and have propelled World Dairy Expo to the doorstep of its 50th anniversary celebration. We have been humbled to play a small role along the way.

Unique amongst dairy shows, World Dairy Expo essentially runs independent of annual financial support from county, state and federal government entities. That business principle dates back to the first consignment sale that gave rise to the early fall classic when 82 breeders donated all the proceeds from calves and heifers to provide the show's seed money. Dairyman T. Janora Jewel, a Guernsey heifer from the Hoard's Dairyman Farm, was Lot 25 in that historic April 1967 fundraiser. Later that fall, we were among a handful of media outlets to cover the event.

That strength of unselfish cooperation gathered a critical mass. Included in the groundswell were local, state and national breeders; cooperatives and businesses; the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Dane County; and the state of Wisconsin, who all gave willingly of their time and talents. However, after a rocky start to the show, it was core visionaries like Hetts, Gene Nelson and Norm Magnussen, Sr., among others who put up their farms as collateral to obtain a $100,000 loan to float the show.

For that faith, these men simply received a clean bill of financial health years later after the loan balance was paid in full. Still more was needed . . . a second cattle sale and an ensuing stock sale gave the show more solid footing. That foundation, along with laser focus on the cow show and commercial trade exhibits, propelled the show forward.

For those looking to gain a deeper appreciation of the World Dairy Expo narrative, we encourage you to read "What's going to happen now?" on page 19 of our Expo supplement. It chronicles Hetts' vision and ability to gather like-minded individuals to grow the grand dairy show.

Those desiring far more can delve into We need a Show, a 200-plus-page book that goes on sale at this year's 49th Expo. As the kickoff to the 50th anniversary celebration, the book details the fabled show, the cows, the exhibits, the events and, of course, the people. By mid-October the book will also be for sale at

Like the many unpaid volunteers who built the show, authors from across the U.S. and Canada contributed to We need a Show because it was the right thing to do. And like the very first show that Hoard's Dairyman editors covered, we lent a hand in shepherding the book along the production process. As it was with the late Allen Hetts, we appreciate the opportunity to be involved in this "Labor of Love."

This editorial appears on page 568 of the September 10, 2015 issue of Hoard's Dairyman.

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