September 26, 2022 at 3:09 p.m.
Preparing for World Dairy Expo
World Dairy Expo, for many, is a family reunion paired with a week-long celebration of dairy cattle. It’s a time to see people we only see once a year. I love being able to see friends’ babies in person instead of on social media, watch as a young couple always seems to get engaged during Expo, and stop and listen to stories from those who’ve been coming to Expo for longer than I’ve been alive. WDE is a cattle show, but it’s a lot more to so many of us.
As a kid growing up only an hour from Madison, Wisconsin, it was always exciting to take a day off of school to go with my parents, walk through the tradeshow, admire the cattle in the barns and eat a grilled cheese sandwich as we watched the show in the coliseum. In my 26 years, I’ve only missed a handful of Expos, and I don’t intend to break that streak anytime soon.
But, before anyone heads to Madison, there’s a lot of work that happens at home. Weeks prior to the show, we are rinsing heifers to ensure they grow enough hair on their topline. Not to mention the countless walks to make sure they are well exercised but also glide seamlessly on the colored shavings. The preparation to get animals ready for WDE is a marathon not a sprint. We are working at it for a long time. As we get a little closer to Expo week, we’ll clip everyone so there isn’t as much to do at the show.
Plus, all summer we’re looking for grassy, long-cut, dry hay to feed. This type of grass hay helps heifers build plenty of fill and rib when it comes to show day. As a kid with my dad, I remember opening up a grassy bale months after it’d been put in the mow with that sweet smell still locked inside. He’d say, “This will make great heifer hay for shows.” And, it’s true. At a show, I enjoy catching that smell of the sweet grass hay in the feed cart.
Getting ready for WDE takes a lot of work with the cattle, but there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes tasks that need to be done to make sure the people have everything they need while at the show. It’s packing the trailer with a slow cooker for show day meals to feed everyone, enough coffee cups to supply a small army and red solo cups to enjoy a hard day’s work at night. Not to mention, the last-minute shopping sprees for white pants and shirts because last year’s are too small or badly stained. Every show mom has their own magic recipe to get stains out of show whites. But, it never fails that someone has a wardrobe issue before going to Expo.
As a Dairy Star employee, getting ready for WDE means packing dress clothes for business meetings, plenty of business cards for networking events and, of course, a notebook just in case I run into a great story idea while walking the grounds. For me, it’s a great time to network with some of the best and brightest in the industry, so I prepare to make sure I represent Dairy Star as the premier dairy publication that it is. I’ve enjoyed being part of the World Dairy Expo Daily Edition the last two years. So many of us in the cattle barns look forward to reading the Daily Edition each morning with our coffee, and it’s been special to be part of that paper leading up to the show.
If you are heading to Madison Oct. 4-7, stop by our Dairy Star booth in the coliseum to say hello or find me in the barns. It’s truly my favorite week of the year, and I am excited to see all of our hard work with the paper and the cattle pay off.