There's always a story in the Illinois State Fair Dairy Building!

Illinois State Fair Giveaway will get Cookie Lovers Crumbling If you're a believer that you can't have milk without cookies, the folks at the Dairy Building at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield are solving that problem. Each day this year, the first 500 individuals to buy a cold, wholesome and nutritious glass of white or chocolate milk for $1 from the Dairy Goodness Shoppe in the Dairy Building will receive a free package of Oreos. The offer teams up the state's dairy farmers, represented by Midwest Dairy Association, with Nabisco to treat the fair's milk and cookie lovers. "We wanted to give the early bird fair visitors a reward for making a great drink choice at the Illinois State Fair," says Marla Behrends, who manages the building on behalf of Midwest Dairy. "It also helps us reinforce that milk provides nine essential nutrients that are needed for everyone's diet no matter the age," she says. The same great, wholesome and nutritious dairy menu popular at the fair in past years will also be available. Featured items are milk, yogurt, ice cream and milk shakes. Other activities throughout the Dairy Building include free kids games, butter cow display and entries from the Dairy Products Contest. The Dairy Building is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day during the fair. The dairy education games for children close at 6 p.m. Butter Sculpting goes Live in Dairy Building at Fair The butter cow has been a tradition at the Illinois State Fair since 1922, and in recent years, sculptor Sharon BuMann has been carving the exhibit so that it's ready to unveil before the fair opens. But this year, visitors will be able to see BuMann at work as she puts the final touches on the butter cow sculpture during the fair's first two days, August 11 and 12. And just in case you fancy yourself an artist, the Dairy Building also provides visitors with Facebook accounts access to "Butter-Fy" themselves. A kiosk in the building lets fair-goers access the "Butter-fy Yourself" Facebook application available at, turning a profile picture into a buttery personality. Personalities include Dairy Princess, Butter Hippie, Butter Cow, Butter Liberty, Butter Bouffant and Butter Up. It also allows users to put their new photo on a virtual postcard from the Illinois State Fair. Nearby, BuMann's work will incorporate the fair's theme of "We've got a good thing Growing" into the butter cow display. Some highlights from past years' butter cow displays include: * 2007 – A wise owl sits in a tree representing the "Celebrate and Educate" theme. This was also the year the butter cow display moved from the south wall of the Dairy Building to its new location in the circular revolving display. * 2008 – A family of skunks made an appearance for "A Family Tradition" theme. * 2009 – A young Abe Lincoln was included for the "An-All American Fair" theme. * 2010 – A cow stood in a corn field to highlight the "Cream of the Crop" theme. BuMann's own favorite butter cow sculpture from the Illinois State Fair was her 2006 masterpiece. It incorporated a new calf and kitten exchanging looks. This piece is also near and dear to BuMann's heart as it was also dedicated to her late husband. BuMann has been carving butter for 16 years. Her start began when the New York State Fair was looking for a new butter sculptor. Her website explains, "I sent in my credentials, created a small sample piece and the rest is history." Attractions at the Dairy Building are sponsored by Midwest Dairy Association on behalf of the dairy farmers of Illinois. The Dairy Building is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Kids' games end at 6 p.m. State Fair Dairy Contest Draws Wide Range of Products Before the Illinois State Fair even opens its doors, the Dairy Building is in full preparation mode. Not only is the butter sculptor at work, but a variety of dairy product companies from across the United States are delivering items for judging in the dairy products contest held there. Dairy companies can enter a variety of products in up to 75 different categories including favorites like Cheddar and Swiss. However, growing in popularity are the specialty and Mexican cheeses classes. Marla Behrends, superintendent of the Dairy Building and industry relations manager for Midwest Dairy Asssociation, says classes like shredded and crumbled cheeses were added reflect changing consumer demand. One specialty cheese expected to make an appearance is one of Behrends' favorite. "It's a chocolate cheese. I don't even eat fudge anymore – I just eat chocolate cheese instead," she says. Each year, the top quality products from the contest are sold at the Commodity Auction, raising money to continue the Sleeter Bull Fund at the University of Illinois. The fund provides a scholarship for $1,000 each year to a student who has an interest in the livestock and meat industry. This year's auction takes place Tuesday, August 16 at 5 p.m. in the Livestock Center. Dairy product contest entries are set to arrive Monday, Aug. 8, through Wednesday, August 10. Judging begins at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 10. Depending on class, the products are judged on four or five of the following criteria: * Flavor * Body/Texture * Color/Appearance * Container/Closure * Finish/Package * Eye Formation/Color Finish * Salt * Melting Quality * Sedimentation/Cream Layer * Product/Acidity After judging, all products are placed in a display case for state fair visitors to view during the building's hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Midwest Dairy helps make Illinois State Fair Dairy Building a "Growing" Success For more than 100 years, a historic building on the Illinois State fairgrounds has been reflecting the words in the 2011 fair theme of "We've got a good thing Growing." Opening in 1903, its success today is due to the financial support of the dairy farmers of Illinois, who operate its concessions and activities through Midwest Dairy Association. In 2011, the building will be busy with activity once more. * Sharon BuMann will return to create the famous butter cow sculpture. This year, visitors will have a chance to see BuMann at work during the first days of the fair. Since 1922, butter sculpting has been a tradition at the Illinois State Fair. * The same great, wholesome and nutritious dairy menu that has been popular with fair-goers in the past will be available. Featured products are milk, yogurt, ice cream and milkshakes. * A free package of Oreo cookies will be available for the first 500 individuals each day who buy a wholesome and nutritious glass of milk from the Dairy Goodness Shoppe. * A kiosk where fair-goers can log on to their Facebook account and "Butter-fy" themselves will be active. The Butter-fy Yourself Facebook application allows users to turn their Facebook profile picture into a buttery personality and use it on a virtual postcard from the Fair. * The Dairy Products Contest will take place, with the highest quality products sold at the Governors Commodity Auction on Tuesday, August 16, at 5 p.m. in the Livestock Center. * Free kids games will be available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Dairy Building. Children under the age of 12 are encouraged to play for a chance to win a free glass of milk. The Dairy Building is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day during the fair. The dairy education games for children close at 6 p.m. New Handouts Share Recipes, Flavored Milk Facts with Fair-goers isitors to the Illinois State Fair can pick up two popular free items at the Dairy Building this season, courtesy of Midwest Dairy Association and its dairy farmer funders. A new recipe brochure featuring dairy and a flyer highlighting facts about flavored milk are free resources to fair-goers as they stop by to purchase dairy treats or visit with dairy farmers and volunteers. The recipes in the Dairy Goodness brochure were contributed by the people behind the dairy products everyone enjoys – dairy farmers, and more specifically dairy farm moms. From breakfast to dinner, layered fruit and yogurt cup to baked zucchini ziti, each of the eight recipes comes from the kitchen of a dairy farm mom and carries her seal of approval. For example, Missouri dairy farm mom Shannon Squibb's recipe for cashew chicken dip uses non-fat Greek yogurt as a healthy alternative to mayonnaise and pairs well with fresh veggies or whole-wheat crackers. The brochure also highlights dairy nutrition, farm-to-fridge milk handling and the care taken by dairy farmers in producing wholesome products. "The folks behind these recipes really understand how wholesome food gets to our tables," says Donna Moenning, senior vice president for integrated communications at Midwest Dairy. "They take care of the cows and the land that produces great dairy products, and they prepare these foods for their own families." A second free item will help families understand the great nutrition delivered by flavored milk. A flyer shaped like a milk bottle, called "Five Reasons Flavored Milk Matters," outlines key flavored milk facts related to child nutrition. Flavored milk has been the subject of discussion across the country in recent months, and the handout helps outline the importance of flavored milk to kids' health. The fact that children who drink flavored milk have better quality diets and meet more of their nutrient needs than non-milk drinkers is just one reason shared on the flyer. The items will be distributed at State Fairs across Midwest Dairy's 10-state territory. 08.03.2011