Dairy flows in Stevens County

ADA, 4-H provided endless milk at the fair

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MORRIS, Minn. – Despite the small number of dairy farms that populate the Stevens County area, an opportunity came about that the Stevens Traverse American Dairy Association board and Stevens County 4-H program could not pass up.
Thanks to the two organizations, new this year at the Stevens County Fair in Morris Aug. 10-14 was an endless supply of milk at the 4-H Food Stand.
“We sat in the dairy building a few years ago and talked about how cool it would be to have an all you can drink milk stand, just like the (Minnesota) State Fair,” said Elizabeth Golombiecki.
Golombiecki, a Stevens County ADA board member and dairy farmer; Vicki Dosdall, the 4-H Food Stand manager; and Savannah Aanerud, the Stevens County 4-H coordinator were instrumental in getting the project going in time for this year’s fair.
“Milk has always been an option in the food stand,” Dosdall said. “I think having an option other than soda and lemonade is the reason many parents enjoy bringing kids to the food stand.”
Due to the small number of dairy farmers in Stevens County, staffing the stand was an obstacle. After a meeting with Midwest Dairy, Golombiecki was introduced to a farmer from Pipestone County who helped implement a milk stand.
The next step was to discuss the idea with 4-H coordinators.
“I barely had to explain what I wanted to do, and they were all for it,” Golombiecki said.
The milk stand was well received from the 4-H program and the community, Dosdall said.
Dosdall ordered the milk from a local grocery store and organized the process to separate food stand orders and milk orders.
“4-H is a locally driven program, and using local vendors for supplying us with food has always been something I feel strongly about,” she said.
Dosdall also feels strongly about the promotion of dairy within the 4-H Food Stand.
“Dairy is a part of the 4-H program, and any time we can get a chance to promote youth involvement in it or the consumption of it is important,” Dosdall said.
Organization within the 4-H Food Stand is simple; clubs gather up crews of parents and four kids to work their shifts, and each person has a job to cover.  
The 4-H and ADA’s goal is to promote milk consumption as a healthy beverage option and also to raise money for the Stevens County 4-H program, Golombiecki said.
Customers purchased wristbands at the fair to designate if they had purchased all-you-can-drink milk.
“4-H purchased the wristbands and the ADA went around taking donations from local businesses,” Golombiecki said. “After the cost of the wristbands, the 4-H program will get the profits.”    
The wristbands were sold for $5 each and were given to the 4-H members for free. When all was said and done, 600 cartons of white milk sold, and the food stand sold out of chocolate milk. More than 1,600 servings of milk were sold, and the leftovers went to the Stevens County Food Shelf.
“A goal for this year was to sell out of our milk,” Golombiecki said. “Considering how much we went through, I am happy with the result. Eventually, I would like to see us using a bulk milk dispenser; it would add to the nostalgia.”
Currently, the cost of each serving of milk they served for the stand was 50 cents. Golombiecki said implementing a bulk dispenser would almost cut the price in half, making it an even more profitable fundraiser for the 4-H program.
There were some challenges in the planning process while deciding how to best serve the milk. Many ADA board members wanted to shy away from cartons due to the taste.
“We didn’t want to have people turn away from the milk,” Golombiecki said.
While this year was a great way to test out what the power of milk can provide for the 4-H program, next year is expected to go over even better.
“It is just catching wind,” Golombiecki said. “I have seen a lot of buzz online from families in the area excited about the wristbands.”
Youth in Stevens County 4-H were equally as excited about the milk stand. Kids helped with promotion by creating boards and posting advertisement around the fair.
Despite the few dairy farms in Stevens County, the 4-H program has seen an increase in representation for the dairy project in recent years due to the lease program, Golombiecki said.
“We have an almost new dairy barn with so many cool features that even if there weren’t kids showing in 4-H we would have cows here to give that experience to fair goers,” Golombiecki said. “I am proud of the efforts put on by everyone involved in our ADA and 4-H program to help orchestrate such a good thing.”

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