By Tim Froberg
MADISON, Wis. — The World Dairy Expo is where the dairy industry connects and communicates.
Roughly 70,000 dairy enthusiasts, company representatives and industry leaders attend the event each year, and the 2018 Expo is expected to be bigger and better than ever. It is considered the world’s largest dairy-focused event and the trade show features exhibits from more than 800 companies across the world.
“It’s a place for people to network and get revitalized and energized about the (dairy) industry,” said Kristin Olson, WDE’s media relations manager.
If it’s dairy related, it’s probably going to be either discussed or displayed at the 52nd annual expo set for Oct. 2-6 at the Alliant Energy Center. The expo showcases North America’s top dairy cattle and the latest technologies in the industry. It features a world-class dairy cattle show and industry-themed contests, displays, exhibits and daily seminars ranging from how to launch a dairy business to robotics designed to create a more efficient business.
“We’re already planning for the 2019 expo and we haven’t even started the 2018 expo,” Olson said. “We have a full staff of 11 people planning and coordinating it, so it really is a year-round job and then some.”
So what’s new this year? According to Olson, the Expo’s introduction of heifers to the Supreme Champions Parade in the dairy cattle show is the biggest addition.“In the past we’ve highlighted all of our championship cows in our Supreme Champions Parade,” said Olson. “This year, we’re going include the best of the best for heifers in all breeds as part of that closing ceremony.”
Another fresh addition will be a Railbird Judging Contest in which participants compete for prizes and get the opportunity to text expo officials on whom they think will win the various dairy judging contests.
The virtual farm tours have been one of the expo’s most popular attraction since their inception in the early 2000s and will return. They include a visual presentation led by the farm’s owners and managers, which allow people to virtually tour farms throughout the country and world. This year’s virtual tours will include stops at U.S. farms in Moscow, Kan.; DeForest, Wis.; Sherwood, Ohio; Humbird, Wis.; Olin, N.C.; Colby, Kan.; and McBain, Mich.
“The virtual farm tours continue to be a highlight for many attendees,” Olson said. “They include a wide range of operations ranging from family-run multi-site farms to ones that focus on value-added products and a little bit of everything in between.”
The expo seminar series also attracts a large audience and is back. The seminar series presents the latest information on policy, research, technology, finances and the future of agriculture and is delivered by industry experts.
“There is always an open forum for questions and answers after each presentation,” Olson said. “That continues to be a draw and add value in terms of education and enhancing the experience.”
And as always, there is the enormously popular World Dairy Expo Cattle Show which Olson said “continues to grow and thrive.”
In 2017, 1,772 owners exhibited 2,333 herd of cattle from 40 states and seven Canadian provinces.
The expo is truly global with 2,752 registered international guests representing 97 countries attending in 2017.
For more information, visit www.worlddairyexpo.com.