On the Road with Alice - October
October was another whirlwind of a month! I had a month full of industry tours and events, Door County visits, fall festivals, and more, all alongside preparing for the Something Special from Wisconsin Holiday Campaign. Look back on the month that was, with me!
Every October is an event that's very special to me, World Dairy Expo! The five pillars of World Dairy Expo include the dairy cattle show, the trade show, education, youth contests, and networking and I sure took advantage of all five each day! I spent my week in the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin booth, greeting attendees, going on a scavenger hunt with fourth graders, meeting with the media, networking, and of course, watching the best cattle in the world walk across those colored shavings! The immense honor of delivering the envelope with the Supreme Champion selections to the announcer was mine this year, which made a perfect way to end the week.
Educating our consumers, our communities, and our youth plays a big role in each Alice's term. Madison College welcomed me to their Experimental Baking course where I shared some of the science behind dairy products that allows us to produce delicious baked goods. My Expedition Agriculture presentations with elementary schools around the state continued this month, bringing me to more than a dozen different schools this month. The Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center invited me to participate as a panelist in the first ever Ag Industry Career Summit alongside fellow ag industry professionals. Topics discussed included ways to get involved in agriculture, the variety of careers in agriculture, and the interconnectivity of the agricultural industry. Our second Girl Scouts lesson focused on technology and sustainability in the dairy industry and took place at Hinchley's Farm. We learned more about the different types of technology dairy farmers use, and the girls also had a chance to practice making butter.
The annual Great Bag Off: Best Bagger in Wisconsin Contest is a highlight in the grocery world and the 36th year did not disappoint! I had the honor of serving as the Master of Ceremony for the event, which recognizes the hard work and technique that goes into bagging groceries, and the important role that grocery stores play in agriculture and our food system! It was so fun to chat with each contestant about their backgrounds, how long they have been working at their local grocery store, who inspired them to participate in the contest, and their favorite foods to bag! (P.S. boxes, eggs, and bread were among the favorite foods to bag)!
There were numerous community events that I was privileged to attend this month, starting off with the first ever Sips & Slices: A Pizza Party Taste-off. This was an incredible event to be a part of! Hosted by The River Food Pantry, they welcomed over 325 attendees to try delicious pizzas made by Ian's Pizza and developed by talented chefs and local celebrities. I also attended the Branch + Daughter Fall Festival, an event celebrating the role a neighborhood market like Branch + Daughter plays in supporting local agriculture and small businesses. While there, I enjoyed meeting with many local vendors that highlight the food, spirits, and other local products produced in Wisconsin! The River Valley School Fair, described as a “miniature county fair," allows local students to showcase their talents exhibiting livestock while teaching lifelong skills outside of the classroom. In support of Wisconsin Corn, a sponsor of the family-friendly event, I attended Badger Bash at Union South in Madison! I also chatted with NBC15 Madison on stage about Alice in Dairyland. Thank you to Wisconsin Corn for their support of Badger Athletics and Alice in Dairyland!
Fort Atkinson Dairy History Days took place, where I interacted with vendors and local authors at the Fort Atkinson Farmer’s Market, witnessed the unveiling of cow statues that will be placed through Fort Atkinson, and visited the National Dairy Shrine and Hoard Historical Museum. I made sure to get plenty of fall activities in this month and a stop to Schuster's Farm in Deerfield sure helped. They are known for its 8 acres of corn maze, over 14 acres of pumpkins, dozens of barnyard attractions, the Haunted Forest, bakery products, and more! Fall Fest at Confections for Any Occasion was another great stop filled with delectable candies and other samples, and a trip to Theresa wouldn't be complete without a stop at Widmer's Cheese Cellars for some of their famous Brick cheese. Keeping in the seasonal spirit, a visit to the Auburndale School Forest Pumpkin Glow was in order! I had the chance to spend quality time with members of the FFA officer team throughout the night, and I loved learning more about how much community support there is in Auburndale for events such as these. They did a great job promoting Wisconsin agriculture and giving back to the local community! I enjoyed emceeing the first annual Anniversary Gala, benefiting Rescue Gang, a non-profit organization in the Milwaukee area focused on helping pups in need find their forever homes.
Industry tours and events are always a highlight, and a wonderful way to learn about Wisconsin's $104.8 billion agriculture industry. Langer Fur Farm is a 4th-generation family-owned business which plays a role in Wisconsin’s mink industry. Wisconsin is the #1 producer of mink in the United States, and today I enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about this aspect of Wisconsin agriculture. Tisch Mills Farm Center, Inc is a family-owned business as well, helping to make and sell mill feeds such as corn, soybean, oats, and wheat for livestock and other uses across Wisconsin. This facility is home to 18 grain bins, and there is storage available for approximately 4 million bushels of corn. I enjoyed meeting members of the team at the mill, including some four-legged friends. The international Dairy Federation (IDF) World Dairy Summit returned to the United States this year and we hosted attendees at Four Winds Farm to showcase Wisconsin’s $45.6 billion dairy industry and the people who make it possible. The night included delicious cuisine, culture, and conversations centered around America’s Dairyland while allowing our international visitors the chance to connect with Wisconsin farmers, processors, and industry professionals.
A visit to Franciscan Peacemakers, a Something Special from Wisconsin member showed me their facilities while sharing more about their mission, to connect women survivors of sexual exploitation to safe housing, meaningful work, and a healing network of support. I spent some time learning new perspectives and insights about the farm equipment supply industry, with a special thank you to Agromatic Inc. for making that happen! For over 120 years, they have been a farm equipment supplier committed to providing America’s dairy industry with the highest quality dairy farm equipment. Some specialty crop tours kept my month tasty, first with a stop to Keene Garlic to learn about their more than 50 heirloom varieties of garlic, followed shortly after by a tour of a cranberry marsh owned and operated by Amber Bristol and her family. Martha Stewart actually grows some of Keene's garlic varieties and Amber's cranberries go towards juice, sauce, and sweetened dried cranberries for Ocean Spray!
This month brought some fun national days, weeks, or months to celebrate as well! National Farmer Day occurred on October 12, a day to pay tribute to the hardworking people who rise with the sun and labor to put food on American tables. October is also National Pork Month, so I visited with some media sharing how to incorporate Wisconsin pork into our meals. National Pumpkin day had me reminiscing on my visit to Alsums Farm & Produce, to see how their pumpkins are grown, harvested, and packaged for stores.
Thank you for following along and for all of your support for another month down in this journey at the 76th Alice in Dairyland!