It is the Year of Dairy Cows at the 2012 Indiana State Fair. Dairy cows are the sixth Indiana commodity to be the focus of the State Fair. According to State Fair spokesman Andy Klotz, the State Fair has partnered with the American Dairy Association of Indiana to use the 17 day fair to educate Hoosiers about the Indiana dairy industry. “Dairy brings a great economic benefit to Indiana,” ADA spokesperson Jenni Purcell said. “Not only that, but milk is very nutritious. Dairy farmers are dedicated to and passionate about taking care of their animals and the land.”
There are more than 1,500 dairy farms in Indiana, housing 176,000 cows. These dairy farms produce about 3.5 billion pounds of milk, accounting for nearly $500 million in milk production each year. Hoosiers with a sweet tooth will be proud that Indiana ranks second nationally in ice cream production.
Deb Osza, with Milk Promotion Services of Indiana, said the Indiana dairy industry has been serving milk at the State Fair since the 1940s. Today thousands of milkshakes, cheese sandwiches, and other dairy products are served at the fair from the famous Dairy Bar. In addition, an interactive dairy display has been set up in the Normandy barn on the North side of the fair grounds. This display will give consumers a hands on experience with dairy production.
It will also present information about Ellen, the world champion milk-producing cow from 1975-1992. A carousel milking exhibit will teach visitors about advancements in the dairy industry, and wall panels will provide information about the six breeds of dairy cows.
Other special dairy features at the Fair include:
Cowtown USA (Family Fun Park): This exhibit gives visitors the chance to hand-milk a real cow and participate in the pasteurization process. Participants can take part in creating cheese, butter, and ice cream. Even better, they get to sample these “homemade” delights when they’re done!
Moo Chew Grilled Cheese & Lemon Chiller (Dairy Bar): These are two new food items featured in the Dairy Bar this year. “Moo Chew” is a grilled sandwich with American cheese in between two slices of Pepper Jack on Sourdough bread. “Lemon Chiller” is a lemon-flavored milkshake.
Culinary Contests (Ellison Bakery Home & Family Arts Building): A Kids’ Favorite Dairy Smoothie Contest, Saturday, Aug. 4 and Sunday, Aug. 5, for school-age children and a Big Cookie Decorating Contest, Aug. 4 open to everyone will combine fun and flavor with the dairy theme.
“Celebrating Dairy Cows” interactive kiosk (Mac Reynolds Barn): This exhibits features facts about dairy cows and the history of the Reynolds farm in Fishers. There are also cow-themed games and photo opportunities.
Free “Cow Cup” (Hot Wisconsin Cheese stand between the Ball State Ag/Hort Building and the DuPont Food Pavilion): Mondays ONLY from 9 a.m. to noon, patrons receive a free 32 oz. souvenir “Cow Cup” of soda with the purchase of any cheese item.
Cattle Barn (West Pavilion): The ADA of Indiana offers displays on modern dairy farming, cow comfort, robotic milking, and the six major dairy breeds.