Dairyfest draws crowd

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Heather Steinle preps ice cream cups for the root beer float stand during Dairyfest Saturday at the Curry County Fairgrounds. The event featured free dairy products and demonstrations from the industry.

Liliana Castillo

United Dairy Women’s Dairyfest attracted thousands of people Saturday after taking a year off in 2010.

Michelle Heavyside, founder and director of United Dairy Women, said the group wasn’t able to book a date for the event last year at the Curry County Events Center.

“Right now, we need to book a date for Dairyfest for next year. That’s how much business the events center is getting,” she said.

Heavyside said the venue is perfect because it’s indoors, air conditioned and large enough to hold the people who attended.

The event is hosted by the dairy industry families and their friends, Heavyside said. With a $1 entrance fee, the event is affordable for families. Heavyside said the dairy industry holds the event to “feed, entertain and educate our community about the dairy industry.”

“This is our way of saying thank you to our communities for their continued support,” she said.

The event, which was held for the first time in 2005, featured interactive booths including virtual tours of processes in the dairy industry such as turning seed into feed, calves into dairy cows and milk from the farm to the table.

“One thing I hope everybody takes out of here is where their food comes from and an understanding of the hard work that goes into it,” Heavyside said.

There were dairy-themed games for children including cow tipping and cow pattie tossing. Dairy products such as ice cream sandwiches, half pints of milk — chocolate and plain — cheese and Pepsi floats were given out for free.

Other entertainment included a dairy-themed performance by Dance and Cheer Force called “Who Let the Cows Out,” live music by the Fun Brothers Band, fiddle sensation Colby Carter and country musician Mark Chestnut.

Proceeds from the event go to the Eastern New Mexico Food Bank’s backpack program, Heavyside said.

Farwell residents Ron and Ardis Kluth, both 75, said they hadn’t attended Dairyfest until this year.

Ardis said she’s from Wisconsin, dubbed the dairy state, and there was never an event as informative there.

“I guess everyone just figured that everyone knows where it all came from and how it was made,” she said. “But we really didn’t. This is really informative.”

Clovis resident Jeana Mascarenas, 45, brought her niece, nephew and grandson to the event.

“I love it,” she said. “The information you get about the dairy industry, all the facts and knowledge, is great. And the freebies are good too.”

Mascarenas said with the large number of dairies in the area, it’s important for residents to know what they do.

“You just don’t know what goes on there (at dairies),” she said. “It’s good for the kids to know.”