SEDALIA, Mo. – More than 400,000 will experience dairy in new, exciting ways at the Missouri State Fair this year. From celebrating the Gerken Dairy’s Center’s 20th birthday to engaging in conversations with local dairy farmers and tasting the Grilled Bacon Mac and Cheese sandwich (back by popular demand), fairgoers will get a closer look at how dairy not only delivers enjoyment, but it is nutrient-rich and produced locally and responsibly by farmers who are highly dedicated to their work.
“I can’t think of anything more exciting than a birthday-style celebration for the Gerken Dairy Center’s birthday – 20 years of delivering dairy in a way that helps bring dairy to life, just like the building’s namesake, Bud Gerken,” said Stacy Dohle, Midwest Dairy’s Missouri State Fair manager. “We invite everyone to leave a birthday message or favorite state fair memory for Gerken’s family during their visit to our building this year. Ultimately, we’re excited to have 11 days together – it’s a time to ‘come home’ and connect people with farmers and the ag community to help better understand where our food comes from.”
Dairy foods will be front and center at the Gerken Dairy Center, located at the northeast corner of the fairgrounds, and one of the State Fair’s most popular concessions owned by the state’s dairy farm families. The building is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Gerken Dairy Center serves 23 hand-dipped ice cream flavors, shakes and grilled cheese sandwiches, including a new birthday cake flavor in honor of this year’s birthday celebration. In 2018, about 2,250 gallons of hand-dipped ice cream treats were served throughout the fair. Stop by and take a photo enjoying your dairy treats and tag @MidwestDairy when sharing in social media.
The Gerken Dairy Center already has a lot to offer, but if you want more – check out the butter cow this year. Tracey Adams, a potter by trade from Reeds Spring, Missouri, returns to sculpt more than 800 pounds of unsalted butter generously donated by Keller’s Creamery, a division of Dairy Farmers of America. The buttery scene depicts Bessie joining the birthday celebration in “Party ‘Til the Cows Come Home.” It is Adams’ fourth year carving the butter sculpture.
Fair-goers can watch and learn about the process of milking a cow every day at 9:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. outside the Gerken Dairy Center. Although the general population is not allowed to hand-milk a live cow, Midwest Dairy provides a model milking cow where anyone can try out their milking talent in the Ag Building.
Each year, the Missouri State Fair celebrates the more than 1,000 dairy farmers in the state who are contributing more than 72,000 jobs and an economic impact of $15.99 billion.