Down on the (dairy) farm
By KRISS NELSON
HUMBOLDT – Typically the children attending the annual Davis Dairy and Friends Ag Day get to head to the country for the farm and dairy experience.
But for the second year, Glenn Davis and his family have taken the farm into town.
Due to growing numbers and logistics, holding the event at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds just makes better sense, Davis said.
Davis Dairy and Friends Ag Day has now been held for 12 years, hosting hundreds of students from schools in Calhoun, Humboldt, Kossuth, Webster and Wright counties.
“We will have over 700 kids aged pre-k to second grade,” Davis said. “We choose that age because they’re the most learnable. They’re inquisitive. They’re excited about seeing something they have never seen before.”
It’s seeing the joy and hearing the laughter from the children is one of the main reasons Davis continues to hold the event.
“Can you hear it? I mean, the kids just love it,” he said. “They really enjoy it.”
The price is right as well.
“And it’s free,” he said.
Davis said he likes to change the exhibits and sessions up from year to year.
“I take some out and bring some new stuff in,” he said.
This year a Clydesdale horse and her colt, a pot-bellied pig and a skunk joined baby pigs, llamas, alpacas, sheep, goats, a mini horse and her colt. In addition to the children getting to pet most of the animals, they also have some other hands on learning opportunities.
Davis said they learn about the farm from a book reading, have the chance to make rope, shell corn, milk a cow with a simulator, a hay bale maze and more.
What appears to be a crowd favorite are the horse and carriage rides.
Jim Kellner, with Dream Carriage Rides, is a regular at the Davis Dairy and Friends Ag Day.
“I have been doing this for quite a few years,” he said. “The kids really enjoy it.”
New to the Davis Dairy and Friends Ag Day this year was a hand-powered corn sheller. This particular session of the day, Davis said, was a good way to explain to the children there is more to an ear of corn than just the corn kernels and some of the byproducts of corn – specifically the corn cob.
“The kids see the ear of corn go in and out comes a corn cob,” he said. “They might know what the corn is used for but this is a chance to teach the kids what a corn cob is used for.”
The day isn’t complete without snacks.
In keeping with the dairy theme, the children are treated to cheese and milk along with some animal crackers.
“They get animal crackers, well, because they get to see all of the animals on the farm,” said Davis.
Although the event has been moved off of the farm, Davis said they are still focused on promoting the dairy aspect of the day.
According to Davis, he is the last dairy producer in Humboldt County, so being able to show the children some of the parts of the dairy industry is important to him.
Iowa Dairy Princess Jessica Schmidt was on hand at the event to help keep the “dairy” in Davis Dairy and Friends Ag Day.
“I’m here to talk to all of the kids and teach them about dairy practices and dairy products,” she said.
Davis said it takes dozens of volunteers to help put on the ever-expanding occasion.
Family, friends, neighbors, industry professionals and students from the West Bend-Mallard and Humboldt FFA chapters not only volunteer their time, but their equipment, animals and knowledge.
“I have good luck finding people to help,” he said. “The volunteers make it possible.”
Davis said the event continues to grow and, unfortunately, he has had to turn people down that have expressed an interest in attending.
To help allow more children, not only does coming into town to the fairgrounds help, but he spread the exhibit and sessions out. Davis said this seemed to help with the flow of activity this year.
He also worked out a better schedule so the turnaround allows for more schools to come in just as other schools are leaving.
“Each school will spend about two hours and when they leave, they make room for another group,” he said. “It’s quite an event. I’m getting a lot more people willing to help me.”
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