In dairy show circles, World War II caused 1943, 1944, and 1945 to become known simply as “The war years.”

Regretfully, 2020 will become known as the “Pandemic Year.”

This will occur because World Dairy Expo (WDE) leaders and management have decided to cancel the 2020 show. The collective team made this decision after it became abundantly clear assembling thousands of people for the world’s greatest dairy show is simply not an option. In short, there is no viable pathway to hold a show that exhibitors and attendees have become accustomed to attending throughout the years.

“Our collective heart is heavy as we share with you that World Dairy Expo 2020 has been canceled,” said Scott Bentley, WDE General Manager. “We know how much this hurts; we feel it, too. Please know other options were explored and considered by the World Dairy Expo Executive Committee and staff,” he said in a press release issued the afternoon of June 4.

No big crowds during COVID-19
Health officials have frowned upon assembling large crowds during the coronavirus pandemic.

NASCAR (The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) is running races with empty stands.

The NBA (National Basketball Association) is planning for a limited travel playoff season.

Major League Baseball still is wrestling for some semblance of a season.

When it comes to World Dairy Expo, Dane County has Emergency Order #3 in place. On page 2 of that order, “mass gatherings” . . . which would include an event such as World Dairy Expo . . . are permitted with fifty (50) individuals or less. The only way that rule would sunset is if the greater Dane County area would move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 to Phase 3 of the Forward Dane plan. Could that happen in time for the 2020 rendition Expo?

Maybe it could.

But it’s doubtful.

The Alliant Energy Center, home to World Dairy Expo, is a county-owned facility that falls under the jurisdiction of Emergency Order #3 and Forward Dane, the phased reopening plan for Dane County. Public health officials predict Dane County may be in the third phase of the plan when World Dairy Expo is set to occur. This phase includes a limit of 250 people at outdoor events, eliminating any possibility that World Dairy Expo, as people know it today, can take place.

With that in mind, World Dairy Expo’s leaders pulled the pin on this year’s show prior to its previously announced self-imposed July 1 deadline to make a decision on the 2020 show.

“As more prominent events come to the realization of how hard it will be to have their shows and keep their clients and visitors safe in the coming months, it’s become harder to mitigate the financial losses at our destination campus,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi in a May 29, 2020, press release. He made those comments when 18 staff members at Dane County’s Alliant Energy Center were placed on temporary furlough until the campus can once again safely host events.

WDE CEO Bentley added to that assessment. “Unwaveringly, we recognize our responsibility is to maintain the health of our community and the health of you as exhibitors, attendees and volunteers and to adhere to the orders dictated by Dane County and the national guidelines from the CDC as they relate to COVID-19,” said Bentley.

Back to the war years
In 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, and 1946, there was no presentation of the coveted Klussendorf Memorial Trophy.

In 1943, 1944, and 1945, there was no national college or 4-H dairy cattle judging contests.

In 1943, 1944, and 1945, no major dairy cattle shows were held in the U.S.

“There were a few shows of more local interest during the war years of 1943-44-45,” wrote Richard Mansfield in Progress of the Breed. However, those shows were limited in scope. “With the resumption of showing in 1946, Waterloo became the officially designated National Holstein Show.

What will 2020 hold for dairy cattle shows?

Will some breeders and exhibitors create “shows of more local interest?”

Or will 2020 simply be a lost year?

We fear that when it comes to large-scale national gatherings, 2020 will become a lost year like the war years.

There really aren’t liability-limiting alternatives during this global health pandemic.

More information, a complete statement from World Dairy Expo, and answers to frequently asked questions regarding the decision to cancel World Dairy Expo 2020 can be found at

The 2021 show is slated for September 28 to October 2, 2021.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2020
June 4, 2020
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