Last weekend several members of the Hoard's Dairyman staff had the opportunity to attend and volunteer at Cows on the Concourse on the square surrounding Madison's capitol building. A dedicated group of volunteers has organized the event for over thirty years and over 150 event-day volunteer workers make the dairy promotion event a success.
The cow tent features calves, heifers, and cows of all breeds bedded on shavings under a tent. Dairy producers and dairy allied industry representatives address the crowd. These "cow experts" use a microphone to share dairy's message each quarter hour. They rotate speaking throughout the day. The spokespeople talk about animal care, milk's nutritional value, and dairy's impact to the community. The speakers are encouraged to add personal stories to relate to the audience. When not speaking to the group, they talk one-on-one with curious guests. Watch the video below to get a portion of a presentation.
For the younger attendees, there were a variety of activities to promote milk and the dairy industry. Children colored a cow head, a tongue, and four legs, and then glued these on a lunch bag to make a cow puppet. Some children even colored the bag to add more personality to the puppet. I loved the creativity of the young girl who diligently colored her cow, and then applied three legs to one side of her cow puppet. While not anatomically correct, she enjoyed the experience. And for that three year old, her cow was perfect!
I enjoyed watching the children color while their parent, sister or grandparent helped by cutting the cow parts or by using the glue. In a time, when some people spend little quality time with their family, I was glad to see that the dairy industry could help by providing the tools to create the experience.
Children also could spin the wheel and answer questions about cows and dairy. They would receive some string cheese for their answer. A few youngsters were so anxious to eat their cheese, they tried to taste it through the plastic. And, who wants to pull a strand or two at a time? They just pulled the wrapper and took big bites and enjoyed their dairy treat.
Food stands selling grilled cheese, ice cream, milk, and cream puffs were popular locations. The "Ask a Farmer" booth provided coloring books for children, and a fitness area touted exercise with a healthy diet. Lots of photos were taken with the cow cut-out.
The event had fabulous weather and was very well-received with an estimated 25,000 in attendance. We hope you take the time to be a part of local dairy promotions during June, either as an attendee or as a volunteer. It will reaffirm why this industry is so important to us all.