By MELISSA HART
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Everything dairy will be the focus at the Michigan State University Livestock Pavilion for the 17th Annual Michigan Dairy Expo, July 15-19.
All breeds of dairy cattle from across the state will converge on East Lansing to compete at the largest dairy event in the state. Contests, shows, demonstrations and adventures will take place as youth compete in the 4-H contests early in the week, during 4-H Dairy Days.
Michigan 4-H Dairy Days is the youth-centered portion of the Michigan Dairy Expo. This long-running event offers young people opportunities to compete for premiums, ribbons and scholarships in various educational activities, including dairy quiz bowls, dairy management contests, dairy cattle judging competitions and the Dairy Days youth show.
The dairy management contest will kick off the week with kids testing their knowledge in hands-on activities including balancing feed rations, demonstrating calf care, milking procedures and a written exam. Tuesday will focus on the show, as youth will compete with cattle in 4-H showmanship and breed classes.
Tuesday evening they will be in the public spotlight as the Sale-A-Bration takes place. Beginning at 6 p.m., Michigan businesses will gather to support this fifth annual Michigan Dairy and Livestock Expo. Champion animals and products will be auctioned off to raise money for scholarships and youth educational programming and activities.
Dairy judging skills will be tested next Wednesday in a contest and Wednesday evening kids will enjoy a fun night of games, activities and ice cream at the “Party Barn” sponsored by the Michigan Junior Holstein Assoc.
The consumer-driven highlight of the Michigan Dairy Expo is the Great Dairy Adventure from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. July 17. This one-day showcase of the industry is designed for families, summer camps and child care groups to expose children to the dairy industry and how milk goes from the farm to the fridge.
Parents and people who work with children will receive nutrition education materials offering simple ideas for teaching them about the importance of including three servings of dairy in their daily diets.
Visitors will be able to engage in a multitude of activities, including milking a real cow, feeding a calf, learning how milk goes from the farm to the store and, new this year, a robotic milking demonstration. A cow-milking robot will be on display for visitors to touch, feel and learn how cows are milked with this latest technology.
Coloring, crafting, picture-taking and eating yummy dairy products will also be a part of this annual adventure produced by volunteer dairy promoters.
Next Thursday the quiz bowl contest will feature teams of four, buzzing in to answer tough questions about the dairy industry, from feed rations to hormones to mammary physiology. That evening an awards ceremony will top off a week of hard work for the 4-H youth just before the Great Lakes Holstein Futurity, the Michigan Jersey Futurity and the ice cream social.
The show ring will be busy July 19, as all the breed shows will take place in one day, beginning with showmanship at 7:30 a.m. The week will end with the parade of champions as a Supreme Champion Cow is selected.
All 4-H Dairy Days and Michigan Dairy Expo events take place at the MSU Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education, located on the MSU campus on Farm Lane between Mt. Hope and Forest roads. There is no admission fee to attend, and parking is free.
For more information about 4-H Dairy Days and the Michigan Dairy Expo or to download a complete schedule of events, visit www.midairyyouth.ans.msu.edu or contact Carla McLachlan at 517-432-5402.