Four of the five 4-H groups that staff concessions for the annual Platteville Dairy Days announced they will not be participating in the 2015 Dairy Days.
A letter to The Journal signed by the Blockhouse Builders, Cornelia Badgers, Happy Clovers and Platteville Woodchucks 4-H clubs (see page 4A) said the groups are pulling out because of the ticket system for purchasing food, which replaced cash purchases starting in 2014.
“While 4-H leaders and members opposed this idea, they agreed to test it,” the letter said. “The results appeared to cause a sizable decline in sales from the previous five years and adversely affected the fundraising efforts of the clubs. …
“Customers who were angry about the ticket system lodged their complaints with 4-H members who were trying to serve them. We were put in a difficult position of being the vendor having to defend a currency system that we didn’t support. We voiced our concerns to the Dairy Days Board after the event and we felt our concerns were disregarded.”
The Dairy Days board is meeting with its vendors this week, including the 4-H clubs, in preparation for the 2015 Dairy Days Sept. 11–13.
“We haven’t completely decided what to do yet,” said Dairy Days board president Chris Mueller. “After [the meeting] we’ll probably know more.”
When asked how ticketing went for the first year, Mueller answered, “It was interesting. You know how first years go. You can never make everybody happy.”
The 4-H clubs — plus the Dairyland Diamonds, which did not sign the letter and, Mueller said, plan to be back this year — man concessions along with several of Platteville’s service clubs. The 4-H clubs’ stands are at Art Hall and at the truck and tractor pull on the Dale Rupp Memorial Track.
“The Jaycees have been using tickets for a number of years” for their beer tent, said Mueller. “There’s a lot of places that use tickets now.”
Mueller said the ticket system was enacted so that Dairy Days would get its share of concessions proceeds sooner.
“We gave them a certain amount of time to give us our percentage and their paperwork, and sometimes we didn’t get it until January,” he said. “This way we get our money right away and they get their money right away, and there are no worries. That way we know what we have going in” to a new year.
“It works, but nobody likes change. This town is big on no change.”
The letter said that the ticket system accompanied an “altered” percentage of vendor earnings that “forced 4-H to raise prices charged in order to cover our expenses.”
In addition, the letter said, “Customers became frustrated when they stood in line for tickets and then had to stand in line again to purchase food. Customers often ended up with too many or not enough tickets for the items they wanted. In addition, while the tickets were nonrefundable, many overspent their budget. This system confused the customers and caused lost sales as many became frustrated and walked away. Additionally, families were spending more time in lines and less time enjoying the activities.”
Mueller said Dairy Days food purchases last year were “about average.” He called the possibility of buying more tickets than a purchaser might use “a community thing. It’s a donation.”
The ticket system was one of the two major changes in the 2014 Dairy Days. The second was Dairy Days’ truck and tractor pulls, which Mueller said attracted 700 to the truck pull Friday and 1,200 to the tractor pull Saturday,
Mueller said the Dairy Days board was “working” on modifications to the ticket system. The 2015 Dairy Days also will include “wiener dog” Dachshund races as part of a regional event.