SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – More than 400,000 fairgoers will be able to enjoy ice cream and cream puffs and milk a cow at the Illinois State Fair this year as Illinois dairy farmers work to bring dairy to life and share their dairy farm stories as part of this annual tradition.
“We’re excited to share with visitors – new and returning – our undeniably dairy traditions. The Dairy Building is a historical building on the fairgrounds, and as such, we also celebrate the Fair’s bicentennial anniversary. The Butter Cow display has greeted visitors for more than 95 years,” said Marla Behrends, Midwest Dairy’s Illinois State Fair project manager. “Dairy farmers are proud of their contributions to the fair, including the variety of dairy treats offered. My favorite is the fresh fruit raspberry sundae because I can’t get it anywhere else.”
Children can “milk-a-cow” at the Farmer’s Little Helpers station near the southeast corner of the fairgrounds, close to Gate #2. Adults can milk a live cow in Barn 25Q coordinated by the University of Illinois Dairy Club. The experience is offered every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for $2 per person, with proceeds going to the University of Illinois dairy judging team. The official unveiling of the 2018 Butter Cow is planned for Thursday, August 9, at 3 p.m. in the Dairy Building.
Dairy foods will be front and center at the Dairy Building; the concessions are owned by the state’s dairy farm families. The building – located at 801 East Sangamon Avenue – is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The venue serves a variety of hand-dipped ice creams, shakes, sundaes, yogurts, cheeses, milks and cream puffs. In support of the dairy community’s national “Scoop it Forward” campaign, which encourages people to show appreciation for one another through random acts of ice cream, anyone who purchases ice cream will have the option to donate their leftover change to the local Ronald McDonald House.
Each year, the Illinois State Fair celebrates the more than 550 dairy farmers in the state who are contributing more than 40,500 jobs and delivering an economic impact of about $22.93 billion for dairy products produced and sold in Illinois. To learn more about dairy farming in the Midwest, including in Illinois, visit MidwestDairy.com.
Editor’s note: Interview opportunities with a local dairy farmer or other state dairy ambassadors involved in the fair are available. To make a request, please contact Marla Behrends, (309) 825-2196 or the Dairy Building, (217) 524-9823.