Dairy Days, the annual Soldiers Grove Lions Club event will be held on June 17, 18 and 19 at the Soldiers Grove Village Park.
The family-friendly event is a reliable bright spot in the community’s annual calendar, celebrating the importance of the dairy industry in the local community and marking Father’s Day as well.
“The Lion’s Club motto is to serve. We do our best to serve the community and make the event better every year,” said Anita Kelley, Secretary/Treasurer of the Lions Club. “We all work pretty hard to put this great event on, and any volunteers would be appreciated.”
Dairy is number one
Dairy is a key Crawford County industry, and remains its major agricultural engine.
“No other agricultural endeavor even comes close to dairy in Crawford County, in terms of the number of jobs created or the dollars generated,” says Vance Haugen, Crawford County Agriculture Extension Agent.
Nevertheless, the face of dairy in the county has changed a lot over the years.
“In 1980, there were 608 dairy herds in Crawford County, grades A and D, and farmers were using bulk tanks and cans. In January of 2016, the county had a total of 90 herds, pretty much all grade A, and there isn’t anyone using cans anymore,” recounted Haugen.
Haugen shared that the largest dairy farm in the county, with about 400 or 500 cows, is located in the Mt. Zion area.
“Most of our dairies have between 50 to 100 cows, and most have incorporated some form of grazing into their approach,” said Haugen.
In 2014, on-farm production and milk sales accounted for $45.3 million. Processing milk into dairy products generated another $8.8 million. At the county level, each dairy cow generated $4,675 in on-farm sales to producers.
Three plants process dairy products in Crawford County, and on-farm milk production accounted for 443, and dairy processing for 31 jobs.
Our state produces 26 percent of America’s cheese and we are #2 in milk production, producing 13.9 percent of America’s milk.
At this time, 96 percent of Wisconsin’s nearly 10,000 dairy farms are family-owned, and the average herd size is 120 cows.
“Dairy has been an integral part of agriculture in Crawford County from as early as the 1670s, when fur trappers came to the area and settlements sprung up to service their needs,” said Haugen. “From reading their diaries, I’ve learned that the settlers always seemed to bring a cow.”
June Dairy Month started out in 1937 as National Milk Month and was used to promote drinking milk and now it has grown into a month-long promotion of the entire dairy industry.
Horse show for fun
Things get underway on Friday evening in Soldiers Grove with a Dairy Days Horse Show going from 7-10 p.m.
“We’re just having a fun show this year, with barrels, poles and a few other games,” said show organizer Roderick Olson. “The only fee will be $1 per horse, just to pay for the cost of working up the arena.” There won’t be any competitive events, and no cash prizes.
“We chose to do it this way just to keep the event simple and fun-filled,” says Olson. “We especially want to be welcoming to younger riders that are looking for a chance to practice and learn – a lot of the other shows just won’t let them enter.”
There is one hard and fast rule to know before you show up with your horse. You must show up with health papers to prove your horse is negative for Infectious Equine Anemia (Coggins test).
We love a good game
New for 2016 in the “active summer fun” category will be a co-ed kickball tournament on Saturday and Sunday, and Fire Department sponsored “water fights” on Sunday following the parade, if enough interest is expressed.
The Dairy Days Men’s and Co-ed Slow Pitch Softball Tournaments gets underway at 6 p.m. on Friday and runs through Sunday afternoon. Sunday will feature the championship games. There is a $100 entry fee with a 100-percent pay back.
Melany Jelinek the games organizer is hoping to get more people interested in the kickball tournament to build on this year’s event for next year. It’s something to play for those not interested in softball or volleyball.
The games begin with a youth exhibition softball game at 5 p.m. on Friday featuring third and fourth grade girls from North Crawford against a team from Eastman. The rest of the Friday night schedule will include four men’s slow-pitch softball games. In total, there are 17 teams entered in the two softball tournaments and the kickball tournament.
Saturday will start with kickball at 8 a.m. to be followed by some co-ed slow-pitch softball later. Play will continue until 10 p.m.
If all goes as planned, the kickball championship will be played at 8 a.m. Sunday followed by the slow-pitch softball championships. Play will conclude between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., according to Jelinek.
Like to play in the sand and the sun? Sign up for the Dairy Days Volleyball Tournament. The tournament will run two to three pits depending on how many teams sign up. Registrations are due by 8:30 a.m., just prior to play. The entry fee is $60 per team. The order of competition will be determined by draw. Those interested are encouraged to contact Doug Heisz at 608-735-4179 or 608-391-0065.
The Dairy Days Horseshoe Tournament starts at 11 a.m. Saturday. Play is draw for your partner and Sunday will be pick your own. Interested participants can contact Bob Allen 608-606-0767.
Both Saturday and Sunday will also play host to bouncy houses in the parks, back by popular demand from the little people. There will also be face painting available for those so inclined.
Wear the dancing shoes
Musical entertainment will be provided by two local bands this year.
Friday’s music in the big tent by the shelter, Back Home Boys, will offer up “country that rocks” from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
On Saturday, attendees will be able to enjoy music from High Mileage, a band out of the Viroqua area. The band’s web site describes their music as “a classic rock band covering mostly 80-90s music. Our number one goal is to get YOU on the dance floor!”
Good eats for all
Show up early Saturday morning, because the Crawford County American Legion Pancake Breakfast serves up pancakes, eggs, sausage and coffee from 6:30 to 9 a.m.
The traditional chicken barbecue will be served on both Saturday and Sunday, from noon until the last chicken is eaten!
And of course, it wouldn’t be Dairy Days without the traditional free milk and cheese!
This year, the cheese is sponsored by Organic Valley, Mt. Sterling Cheese, Prairie Farms, Westby Creamery, and Swiss Valley. The milk is sponsored by Campbell’s One Stop and Prairie Farms.
Tractor pull a good time
Midwest Pulling will run a Farm, Antique and Open Tractor Pull beginning at noon on Saturday.
The event will be back on the dirt this year, after being on blacktop last year. The classes will include Key 4,000 to 6,500; Farm 7,000 to 9,500; Open 8,500 to 9,500; and Big 10,000 to 12,500.
Tractors may be entered in no more than two classes per event and only once per class. Each puller will have three attempts to move the sled. Registration is $20, due prior to the pull. Each class registration will close when the first tractor of that class is hooked to the sled or the announcer calls the class closed.
What fun – a parade!
On Sunday, everyone who loves a parade will line the route along Highway 131 east of the park at 1 p.m. for the Dairy Days Parade. Prizes will be given for the best dairy float, as well as other float prizes.
There is no fee to enter the parade. Registration starts at 11:30 a.m. and goes until 12:30 p.m.
“Dairy Days is a great community event that happens every year on Father’s Day weekend. The event brings lots of people into the community, and the parade is a fun time for families that everyone looks forward to each year,” said organizer Rosie McCullick.
If you would like to participate in the parade, contact Rosie McCullick at 608-629-5095 or Kris McCormick at 608-606-4335.
Following the parade, the Kindschi Pedal Pull will be held. The tractor pedal pull is free and open to all children ages 4-12.