September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
The event kicked off with a welcome reception on the evening of March 30. Nearly 900 people enjoyed an energetic performance by country artist Heidi Newfield while sampling the many dairy hors d'oeuvres that were stationed around the room.
"She was just a huge bundle of energy and was very interactive with the audience," Kathy Tonneson, one of the CPDE coordinators, said of the performer. "We're already talking about what we can do next year to top Heidi Newfield."
Throughout both days of the expo, attendees had the opportunity to view the 340 booths representing 247 vendors and event sponsors. They also had the chance to take in educational sessions covering topics from hoof health and record keeping to what happened with the dairy prices in 2009.
The event began with a record-breaking attendance on Wednesday.
"Wednesday (March 31) was huge. I had so many vendors tell me they did a month's worth of business that day," Tonneson said, as they made around 2,100 name badges that day alone. "Wednesday was the biggest day we have ever had. Usually we have 1,600 to 1,700 [people attend on the first day], so to have 2,100 attend was phenomenal. It was wonderful."
Unfortunately, the record attendance on the first day should have foretold what was to come on the second day. Due to unseasonably warm weather, many producers checked out early and headed to the fields on Thursday instead of sticking around for day two of the expo. Because of this, they fell short of reaching their goal of 2,500 attendees.
"We only had around 2,250 people attend overall," Tonneson said.
But all in all, she was pleased with how the event went and is already looking forward to next year's expo.
"We're always tweaking it to make it better," she said. "We want to make as many people happy as possible."
A new event at the expo this year was the Ag Prayer Breakfast, hosted by the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance (WIDA) and Central Plains Dairy Expo. The event - which began at 6:45 a.m. on March 31 - was fashioned after a similar event with the same name that takes place annually at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif.
"It turned out better than any of us envisioned it would," Tonneson said of the event.
The breakfast began with a welcome to the attendees, an invocation and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The early risers then enjoyed a hot meal and fellowship with other producers as the Brown family shared their musical talents through inspirational singing and fiddle playing. The Browns - Keith and Shelly and three of their children, Michaela (22), Adam (20) and Andrew (14) - dairy farm near Le Mars, Iowa, and have been sharing their faith through music for over nine years.
"People were blown away by the Brown family's talent," Tonneson said.
As attendees finished their meal, Scot Hillman, the keynote speaker, chairman of JD Heiskell and Company and one of the founders of the Ag Prayer Breakfast in Tulare, spoke on perseverance, the power of God and the role both play in dairy farming.
"Perseverance is an important quality to have, to survive ... but it is hard to put into practice. It lacks fun," Hillman said. "... But the point of perseverance is legacy, what we leave behind for future generations."
He likened legacy to the example Jesus left for all to live by. Hillman also discussed trials and turning to God in times of need.
"What do we do in times of trial? What did they do in Biblical times? They asked, 'What would God want of me?'" he said. "God wants us to check in with him ... to pray for the tools we need to meet our adversaries. It's better to meet our trials head-on equipped by God."
In closing, he revisited perseverance.
"It's important to remember that ours is a God of all generations. Our faithfulness with help us persevere," Hillman said. "The heart and creator of our universe has our back. We can always look up and forward because the best is yet to come."
Following Hillman's talk, Inwood, Iowa, dairy farmer Gerritt Davelaar gave a testimony to how faith has played a role in his career and his life, including how it helped he and his family cope with the loss of his wife to cancer.
"I would have never made it without faith, without the peace the Lord gives us through the difficult times. It's God's grace," Davelaar said. "I don't know why some things happen, but I know the Lord is in control and I trust He will take care of us."
Davelaar also talked about the struggles producers have gone through over the last year.
"I know last year was tough, but every night I crawled into bed with a full stomach. We are richly blessed," Davelaar said. "These are all gifts from God, and by the grace of God we are here."
Following the breakfast, Tonneson was pleased with the response to what may become an annual event.
"People said it was very inspirational," she said. "They loved starting their day out like that."[[In-content Ad]]
To Submit an Event Sign in first
No calendar events have been scheduled for today.