Volunteers. These dedicated dairy souls have been the heartbeat of World Dairy Expo since its very inception in 1967. These days, the show boasts well over 500 individuals who step forward to help produce the world’s greatest dairy show. Many of these roles go unnoticed by guests and exhibitors, but each of their duties is crucial to the event’s vitality.
Well, the “unnoticed” part went out the window at the beginning of the Supreme Champion Awards Ceremony this past Saturday. Serving as volunteers at World Dairy Expo since their college days in the early 1990s, World Dairy Expo show managers asked yours truly and my wife, Krista Knigge, to perform a Western swing dance in full costume to kick off the close of World Dairy Expo and its pinnacle Supreme Champion ceremonies.
Of course, show leadership had also known that we had been taking dance lessons as a couple with Fred Astaire dance studios for over six years. For us, dance and dairy have become so intertwined that a Braedale Goldwyn in vitro fertilized (IVF) embryo calf bears the name “Astaire” while others have been named in honor of other dance instructors. As for the “Dancing Dairyman” moniker, that traces back to a Family Feud audition that eventually led to an on-stage performance in front of Family Feud’s Steve Harvey.
A tribute to fellow volunteers
While, not looking for more work during a busy week of World Dairy Expo, we decided to accept World Dairy Expo's August invitation to dance on the colored shavings because of the dedicated cattle and commercial exhibitors, along with the countless volunteers. Like those dairy enthusiasts, we poured our soul into perfecting the routine. To perfect the choreographed dance, lessons took place for two straight weeks prior to World Dairy Expo. Then there was a late Tuesday night rehearsal at World Dairy Expo from 10 to 11:30 p.m. to get familiar with the uneven dance floor known as the colored shavings and to get a sense of spacing without people or cows in the way, which only happens at the quiet night hours in the Coliseum.
The final tie between the dance and World Dairy Expo was the theme — The Next Frontier. Robert DeBroux, who was co-emcee, heralded the start of Expo’s Supreme Ceremonies . . .
“Just like the journey to the wild western frontier, the dairy industry is full of unpredictable terrain and challenges. But like those first pioneers, we continue to persevere and celebrate moments of triumph,” he said to thousands in the audience.
DeBroux continued, “Many of the great cows that you’ve seen dance across the colored shavings this week journeyed from small towns across this great continent. As we get closer to the crowning moment of ‘The Next Frontier,’ let’s take an opportunity to celebrate our small-town country roots with a small town throw down . . .”
Watch the video and you be the judge of the small town throw down performance with Fred Astaire instructors Ariel Freilich (danced with Corey Geiger) and Zachary Pohl (danced with Krista Knigge) who are the reigning Country Two-Step Champions with Fred Astaire.
“Corey and Krista are longtime Expo enthusiasts and volunteers,” added DeBroux. And that was the capstone to our volunteer work during the week that included serving as Superintendent of the Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest, emcee of the Council of Dairy Cattle Breeding meeting, secretary of the Klussendorf Association, script writer for a number of World Dairy Expo awards, and a key assistant on authoring a number of press releases.
About those volunteer activities, watch this seven-minute video from a WXPO television interview on Saturday, October 6.