If you have ever visited the Dairy Bar at the Indiana State Fair for a creamy grilled cheese sandwich and a cold milkshake, you already appreciate the wonders of the dairy industry. But what you may not know is the dairy industry also plays a vital role in Indiana’s economy, in addition to our daily diets. This year the State Fair is celebrating all things dairy in partnership with the American Dairy Association (ADA) of Indiana during the “Year of Dairy Cows.” What a good reason to indulge in an ice cream cone!
There are more than 1,500 dairy farms in Indiana housing 176,000 cows. These farms produce about 3.5 billion pounds of milk, accounting for nearly $500 million in milk production each year. Indiana also ranks second nationally in ice cream production. I don’t know about you, but I’m a proud Hoosier right now!
Awesome statistics like these call for awesome celebratory exhibits and activities at the fair. Have you ever milked a cow before? At Cowtown USA in the Family Fun Park, you can try your hand at it! While you’re there, you can also take part in creating cheese, butter and ice cream to sample.
You can satisfy your dairy craving with the new “Moo Chew” meal that consists of a delicious lemon chiller milkshake and a grilled sandwich with American cheese in between two slices of Pepper Jack on sourdough bread. I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from people who’ve tried them!
· Culinary Contests (Ellison Bakery Home & Family Arts Building): A Kids’ Favorite Dairy Smoothie Contest, Saturday, Aug. 4 and Sunday, Aug. 5, for school-age children and a Big Cookie Decorating Contest, Aug. 4 open to everyone will combine fun and flavor with the dairy theme.
· LegenDairy Marketplace (DuPont Food Pavilion): This booth offers information on the powerful package of nutrients in milk. There will be two interactive touch screen computers with a chance to win a year's worth of free dairy. ADA will be handing out grocery list notepads, recipes, nutrition info and there will be a Q&A area staffed with nutrition experts.
· Fuel Up to Play 60 tent (Family Fun Park): This kids’ activity teaches youngsters why it’s important to eat nutrient-packed foods and exercise for 60 minutes per day. Kids can run through an agility ladder, build muscles by lifting weights and check out the 'toss and tell' activity ball that will help educate kids on the importance of nutrition. Kids will also receive some Fuel Up to Play 60 goodies!
· “Celebrating Dairy Cows” interactive kiosk (Mac Reynolds Barn): This exhibits features facts about dairy cows and the history of the Reynolds farm in Fishers. There are also cow-themed games and photo opportunities.
· Free “Cow Cup” (Hot Wisconsin Cheese stand between the Ball State Ag/Hort Building and the DuPont Food Pavilion): Mondays ONLY from 9 a.m. to noon, patrons receive a free 32 oz. souvenir “Cow Cup” of soda with the purchase of any cheese item.
· Cattle Barn (West Pavilion): The ADA of Indiana offers displays on modern dairy farming, cow comfort, robotic milking and the six major dairy breeds.
· Dairy cow exhibits (Normandy Barn): Information about Ellen, the world champion milk-producing cow from 1975-1992, will be on display. A carousel milking exhibit will teach visitors about advancements in the dairy industry, and wall panels will provide information about the six breeds of dairy cows.
Also make sure you meet the ADA’s mascot, Buttercup, while you’re at the fair!