Vikram Mistry

Vikram Mistry, head of the South Dakota State University Dairy Science Department, stands in front of the new Davis Dairy Plant and the SDSU Dairy Bar ice cream and coffee shop on the campus.

Three days of dairy-filled fun are in store at the 2019 Dairy Fest on May 30 – June 1 in Brookings, South Dakota. The event kicks off with the “Got Milk Gala” on Thursday, May 30, followed by a Leadership Training event on Friday, May 31, and will end with the Dairy Fest Carnival & Tours on Saturday, June 1.

What better way to kick off the Dairy Fest than to bring together people who share a passion for the dairy industry to enjoy a night of conversation and celebration of that exact passion while also enjoying a five-course dinner with a menu especially made with the dairy industry in mind? The Got Milk Gala is a ticketed event at the Swiftel Center, with the social hour beginning at 6:30 p.m., and dinner at 7:30 p.m.. Michelle Rook of WNAX radio will emcee the evening, which will feature keynote speaker Jim Ostrom, co-founder of Milk Source. 

The Dairy Fest Committee invites the public to attend and enjoy the subsequent activities and events offered during the rest of Dairy Fest. If you have a passion for communicating with consumers about the agricultural industry, or if you want to improve your ability to do so, you are invited to attend “Food for Thought: How to Have a Meaningful Conversation with Consumers,” a leadership training event and seminar. This event is scheduled for Friday, May 31  from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. at the Swiftel Center, and it will be led by Natasha Mortenson, a former agriculture instructor who is now a member of the community relations team at Riverview, LLP. Her mission is to inspire support for agriculture by helping others develop leadership abilities. The focus of the event will be on building effective communication techniques for discussing a wide variety of agricultural topics with consumers, including environmental issues, GMOs, animal care techniques, workforce development, and other concerns frequently voiced by consumers.

On Saturday, June 1 the Dairy Fest will host a fun and lively Carnival, from 10:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Swiftel Center. Inflatables, games, prizes, live animals, free cheese samples and free SDSU ice cream are just some of the many exciting things for people of all ages to participate in and enjoy while also learning more about the dairy industry.

The Carnival will also feature a tour of the SDSU Davis Dairy Plant as well as a tour of Crosswind Jerseys, a dairy farm located near Elkton, SD, where a free grilled cheese lunch will be served. The tours of the SDSU Davis Dairy plant will run from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., with buses running roughly every twenty minutes. The tours of Crosswind Jerseys will run from 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., with buses running roughly every thirty minutes.

For the third year in a row, the “Picowsa of Dairy Fest” fine arts contest will be held prior to Dairy Fest. This contest is an opportunity for third grade to college students to use their artistic skills to express their view of the beauty of the dairy industry in the form of a painting. The paintings will be judged and the top three winners in each age group will receive a cash prize to use for purchasing art supplies. After judging is complete, all paintings will be displayed at the Got Milk Gala event on Thursday, May 30 and at the Carnival on Saturday, June 1. 

A silent auction will be held at the Got Milk Gala for those paintings that the artists chose to auction off.  Each artist can keep half of the proceeds that their painting raises. The artists also have the choice of donating their half of the proceeds to their local FFA or 4-H Club, or to their school’s art program.

The Farm-to-Fork event is another portion of Dairy Fest which will be held on June 7. This event is a great opportunity for youth in the community to learn more about the dairy industry and about the journey of dairy products from farm to table. They will also learn about dairy cows, what they eat, where they live, and much more. After that, they will have the opportunity to make a delicious dairy treat! There will be two one-hour sessions. The first session will be held from 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. at the Boys & Girls Club, and the second from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Teen Center in Brookings and is only available to students enrolled in the Boys & Girls club and Teen Center in Brookings.