In a lifetime full of memorable years, 2013 should be near the front of the pack for Indiana dairy farmer from Fountain City Duane Hill. He was the rookie Indy 500 milkman last year which means after this year’s race as head milkman he has the honor of delivering the bottle of milk to the winning driver. Then he’ll retire at the end of year, and it’s a hard profession to walk away from.
“It’ll be tear jerking,” he said. “I’ve sold out a couple other times and started over again and tears always come from the eyes. It’s a very loving tradition and really the old milk cows always made us a living and we need to give her one.”
Hill took HAT through the many changes in his industry over the years, “major changes” as he calls them.
“I can remember when my grandfather milked cows and he milked them by hand even. Then when the milkers came and the cream separators, and the greatest change I always thought was when the milking parlors came in. you didn’t have to stoop down or squat down to milk cows anymore and it was much faster.”
The tradition of milk in victory circle at Indy dates back to 1933 but last year was his first at experiencing it up close.
“Oh, it was great! It was a lot of fun and what a pleasure to represent the dairy people of Indiana. What a great experience to hand that milk to the winning team.”
Rushville, Indiana dairy and grain farmer Ken Hoeing takes the rookie milkman spot this year.
“I’m looking forward to learning everything that there is to learn about it. Duane’s a good teacher and it’s quite an honor to represent all of the dairy industry.”
Wednesday was a packed Indianapolis area media tour for the milkmen and others at Milk Promotion Services of Indiana. In addition to race day festivities they’ll host the annual Fastest Rookie luncheon next Tuesday.
See Duane and Ken in the video section of our smart phone app for iPhone and Android, and hear more in the HAT interview:Meet Duane and Ken