Bonnie Ayars, Dairy Program Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University
Although it was a long time coming, the 10th anniversary of Dairy Palooza took place at the Wayne County Fairgrounds on April 30. It was a “leap of faith” as the committee began making plans back in the winter. However, not one soul was willing to dismiss the idea of planning the big goals needed to undertake the project. Evidently, our sponsors believed too, as their response was equally as strong in their commitment.
Although our surroundings are somewhat rustic and possibly lack some technology, we delivered on our promise of “making the best better” for this special anniversary. Our purple color reflected that of champions in all our publicity and the fact that complimentary halters and souvenir t-shirts were also coordinated in that shade. We even gave digital thermometers for each attendee, but they were unavailable in purple.
Palooza began as a simple idea for dairy club members to learn through hands-on activities. The Grammers were generous and provided their farm as our first setting. As they say, the rest is history. Then through the generosity and support of so many volunteers, educators, and businesses, we quickly grew by leaps and bounds. So for 2022, we reflected on our memories and even a display of all the t-shirts.
The morning program was consumed with the quality assurance (QA) topics and a writing workshop dedicated to thank yous. After a hearty dairy lunch and networking, there was a photo opportunity in those purple t-shirts. The afternoon program content included multiple workshops for all ages on all subjects related to a dairy 4-H project. Showmanship and clipping and fitting, plus Dr. Horton’s science antics are perennial favorites. However, there was another workshop on animal welfare by Dr. Pempek of OSU and others that included an actual udder and reproductive tract. Turn a corner and American Dairy Association Mid-East displayed all kinds of products with taste sampling. Even oranges served a grand purpose with a veterinarian demonstration on injections, and bovine nutrition was also spotlighted. If you had dairy feeders, there was a time slot for your special interests and there was an entire sample farm display where 4-Hers could demonstrate cattle movement practices! Every workshop had a goal of connecting to the content provided in the morning QA workshops. Even Cloverbuds were offered a separate program with superhero dairy capes, flag folding, creating a dairy feed ration, plus artistry as they painted their favorite cow. Not to be outdone by a focus on youth, the program included adult sessions on social media, showmanship guidelines, dairy products, and State updates. One of the real highlights for advisors was the “unveiling” of the new Dairy Heifer and Cow project book!
As the program came to a close, useful door prizes were presented to those who stayed for the entire day. One lucky young lady came with a dream and a hope to win the handmade show box. She was speechless when her name was called out. Her story is not unlike other attendees, but she was the fortunate and thankful recipient.
Dairy Palooza is a one-of-kind event not offered in any other state. Our content has been the recipients of grants, state awards, and even written up in Hoard’s Dairyman. It does not take place without the efforts and quality time provided by our planning committee of Lisa Gress (Chair), Mike Janik, Julie Martig, Eileen Wolf, Sarah Thomas, Sherry Smith, and myself. Layer in all the presenters, donators, and behind the scenes people and you have an extraordinary group of selfless people dedicated to the cause of educating the next generation. If you would like to view our programs and a special celebration video, visit our Facebook page, Ohio 4-H Dairy Palooza.
Whether you were a seasoned attendee at Dairy Palooza or this was your first time, the focus of the day was to educate and train all attendees to become “champions” with and for their dairy projects (Figure 1). That purple halter is just a beginning to what happens at the rope’s end!
Figure 1. Picture of participants at the 10th anniversary of Dairy Palooza.