Learn about Iowa's dairy industry inside a historic round barn at the Plymouth County Fair at Le Mars July 24-28.
For the sixth year the local chamber of commerce will host an exhibit inside the Tonsfeldt Round Barn, and this year's feature is "Discover Dairy."
"Since Le Mars is known as the Ice Cream Capital of the World it seemed only appropriate to showcase the region's dairy processors, and dairy producers," chamber ag division vice president Jordan Sitzmann aid.
"Unfortunately, even here in Le Mars, many people may not know the origins of their dairy products such as milk, ice cream, cheese, butter and yogurt," he added. "We want to make the connection with consumers that their favorite dairy foods go all the way back to the cow."
The local dairy industry is responsible for thousands of people being employed at such places like Wells' Enterprises, Dean Foods, Agropur and AMPI. Each dairy milking cow contributes more than $23,000 to the local and state economy.
Employment goes beyond the region's dairy processors. Along with employees on the dairy farm, there are truck drivers, feed people, those at the grain storage elevator, the veterinarian, even those employees at the grocery store and supermarkets that stock the dairy products and operate the cash registers.
"Each one of them have a connection to the dairy industry," Sitzmann said.
The round barn will be transformed to look like the new dairy parlor farm, Perry Creek Dairy, located west of Le Mars. Perry Creek Dairy, which began operations in late February, has an unique carousel system. Cows step on, and the carousel rotates as they're milked. Life-size photos will illustrate to visitors the modern way of milking as performed at the Perry Creek Dairy farm.
Educational exhibits will be displayed from each FFA chapter in Plymouth County showing a specific dairy product, its nutritional value, and how that product is produced, processed and packaged.
The Plymouth County Fair will also feature a butter sculpture. Plymouth County is fortunate to secure the talents of Sarah Pratt of West Des Moines, Iowa. Known as the "Butter Lady," Pratt is responsible for creating the many butter sculptures, including the famous butter cow, as featured at the Iowa State Fair.
Although, Pratt will not be seen working on her butter sculpture during the Plymouth County Fair, her work will be on display. The butter sculpture to be featured at the Plymouth County Fair will be a replica of the Tonsfeldt Round Barn.
In addition to the dairy exhibit inside the round barn, the Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee will have a live milking demonstration educational trailer on the fairgrounds. The trailer is a 40-foot classroom that features large screen television set, and shows how a cow is milked and how dairy producers are good stewards of the land. It features a 45-minute slide show presentation put on three times daily during the fair, and will stress the nutritional value of milk.
"Visitors to the fair will have a better understanding of what actually occurs on a dairy farm when viewing the live milking demonstration and educational trailer," Sitzmann said.
Another exciting feature to the dairy exhibit at the round barn will be the opportunity to experience a virtual tour of a local dairy farm. Specially equipped goggles will allow people to experience a dairy farm, as if they were standing right there. They will see the milking parlor, the holding pens, the feed and more. The Siouxland Ag in the Classroom, along with some area FFA chapters will operate the virtual 3-D tour Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday beginning at 6 p.m. inside the round barn.
The Le Mars Youth On Main Street organization will also be inside the round barn coordinating a scavenger hunt for people of all ages.
The "aROUND the farm in the BARN" exhibit will again feature several interactive, educational displays, including a live bee hive display.
"I truly believe visitors to this year's Plymouth County Fair and the round barn agricultural educational exhibit will be amazed by what is being featured," Sitzmann said.