September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
One big celebration
"It's one big celebration for the dairy producers and processors," said Darrel Rennich, the Dairy Festival committee chairman.
The Dairy Festival Steering Committee will host the first annual Dairy Festival on June 6 and 7 at the Swiftel Center in Brookings, S.D. All the proceeds of the event will go toward youth scholarships and grants.
"Our mission is to have a fun and educational experience for all ages," Rennich said.
The inspiration for this event started when Tom Richter, the Swiftel Center Executive Director, approached Rennich about establishing a dairy celebration.
"There is a lot of dairy activity along the I-29 corridor with a number of processing plants and farms in the area," Rennich said. "It has a lot to offer."
Rennich and Richter invited local processing plants, university individuals and other key people in the industry to share their idea.
"We threw it out there and they loved it," Rennich said.
Plans and unique activities quickly came together to help shape the region-wide event.
On Friday the festival kicks off with youth dairy cattle judging contests, opened to public.
"This event is prepared to help regional schools practice their judging skills, as well as allowing the public to try their hand at judging," said Tracey Erickson, a Dairy Field Specialist with the SDSU extension.
Followed by the cattle judging contest, they will be hosting a Pride of the Plains cattle sale for producers from around the area.
"This sale was originally held in the fall, however we decided to move it to June to allow producers to see both the show in the morning and attend the sale afterwards," said Rennich.
Later on Friday evening, their event "Got Milk" Gala is a five-course meal that will be held for local processors and sponsors. Each course of the meal will have dairy products incorporated in it, along with a keynote speaker to talk about the impact that agriculture has on the world.
Bright and early Saturday morning at 7 a.m., will be kicked off with a Cow to Cup 5K run where participants will be able to enjoy a cold glass of chocolate milk after the race.
"Most people don't know that chocolate milk is one of the best ways to refuel and replenish after exercise," Rennich said.
Throughout Saturday a wide variety of activities will be held. Many processors and companies will have vendor and educational booths along with Rhonda Ross speaking about the Thank A Farmer program. A youth carnival will be held for young families and teens to participate in a maze to learn how milk gets from cows to the consumers. At the end of the maze, participants can be entered into a drawing for prizes.
"The maze is in the shape of a cheese wedge," Rennich said.
"Youth can learn about the farm and what happens on it, "said Erickson.
Following the maze, kids have the chance to participate in a Rabbit Agility course, which incorporates Fuel Up to Play 60 activities.
The Central Plains Holstein Show will also be held Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m.
"We moved the date a week earlier to be part of the festivities," Rennich said. "It created more opportunities for consumers to see how dairy farmers take care of and treat their animals."
Later Saturday afternoon, everyone will have the opportunity to tour Hilltop Dairy Farm from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., and see what a farm looks like and how it runs. People will learn how the process of milking works along with other daily tasks done to keep a farm running.
"There has always been the traditional lunch on the dairy farm. We didn't want to take that away, but rather expand on it," said Rennich. "It will be an opportunity to see a functioning dairy farm during the two-day event."
With almost two weeks left, both Rennich and Erickson are more than excited to see what this event has in store.
"We want to educate the youth of today about agriculture because they will be the decision makers of years to come," said Erickson.
"My hope is to see a great crowd out there, " Rennich said. "I hope they will be talking about it for months to come and will be just as excited about it next year."
Missy Mussman contributed to this article.
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