As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, I saw trucks and vehicles with dairy decals that filled the rows. A few pieces of dairy equipment were pulled up right beside them. It was one of the first signs I had arrived at a farm show.
As I walked toward the convention center, pulling open the doors decorated with a feed advertisement, I saw a young family making their way inside, the kids skipping and jogging to keep up with their parents' wide strides. I could tell from their interaction they were all excited to be there. Although spending two days at a trade show with seminars would crunch my writing time, I was excited to be there, too.
It had been at least five years since I had attended the Central Plains Dairy Expo (CPDE) in Sioux Falls, S.D. Wow, has it changed. There is so much more room and space in the trade show, more seminars and lots of people. I caught up with some of our dairy farming columnists - John Rosenhammer, Dave Vander Kooi and Sadie Frericks - and saw plenty of producers from my neck of the woods. In the booth, I was able to chat with people from other areas and encourage them to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter, called The Milk Break, for even more dairy information. (If you are interested in signing up, email Andrea at andrea.b@dairystar.com.) Plus, I got to sing along with Clint Black during his concert the night before the trade show opened.
Together, it created a great energy during the trade show in the convention center. Everyone there had smiles on their faces and seemed to be engaging in meaningful conversation. People were looking at new products or snapping pictures with friends to post to social media. And free ice cream always makes people happy. Events like this are a great way to socialize and learn, all at the same time.
Although sometimes topics in the dairy industry can get heavy, it is important to realize there is a whole industry to look to for support. Going to the CPDE reminded me of that widespread network. Even though I work in the media and talk to dairy farmers sometimes on a daily basis, the world can start feeling small when I only think of the items on my daily to-do list in my basement office. I'm sure the same can happen on the farm - to be so focused on getting the daily chores done we forget about others in the industry around us.
It's events like these that keep me going. If you haven't been to a farm show or dairy expo in the Midwest, I encourage you to attend. Being around so many people in the industry lifts my spirits. I like connecting with producers I haven't met before and hearing their dairy farming story. It's fascinating to see all the latest dairy equipment and I like to hear different management techniques used on the farms during seminars.
While the CPDE did set me back in my writing a bit, it rejuvenated my enthusiasm for the dairy industry and reminded me about the bigger picture in the dairy industry. So, dairy farmers, keep up the good work at home and know there is a large number of people there to support you. I hope to see you at an upcoming dairy expo!