WORLD DAIRY EXPO
t the World Dairy Expo (WDE)
closing ceremonies in Madison,
Wis., seven bovine beauties
competing for the Supreme
Championship of 2015 are backstage getting washed, blow-dried, clipped, primped
and a cow’s version of a spray-tan, a glistening sheen that re;lects their perfectly coiffed
coats under the glare of the spotlight.
The cows don custom-made designer
sashes and stride down a runway while upbeat music blasts and the emcee spouts off
stats such as, “Venus is a four-year-old Jersey
with a production record of 16,248 pounds
of milk, 800 pounds of fat and 600 pounds
of protein.” Thousands cheer for their favorite breed while 2,500 dairy cows and their
caretakers hang back at the nearby Holland
Pavilions with the show live-streamed to
their Super Bowl-like barn party.
The lights darken and the announcer
calls for the crowd-favorite human, Alice in
Dairyland, to sashay down the runway with
a gold envelope containing the winner’s
name. Cows ;idget, and handlers nervous-
ly wait for a very lucrative announcement.
The value of the 2015 Supreme Champion
skyrockets to something comparable to the
sticker price of a 2015 Porsche Panamera
Venus’ win is the culmination of the ;ive-day event, which is arguably the most prestigious dairy cattle show on earth.
WDE includes the Westminster-like Cow
Best of Show, a cattle market show display-
ing thousands of dairy cows, a trade show
with 850 exhibitors demonstrating Juras-
sic-sized farm equipment, symposia with
experts disseminating the latest advice on
“enhancing your cow’s reproduction” or
“making the most of manure,” virtual farm
tours with slogans such as “Cheese to meet
you,” school tours for thousands of fourth
graders (many of whom think chocolate
milk comes from a brown cow) and numer-
ous social activities, including the World
Forage Analysis Superbowl.
“My job changes every day and you never know what’s going to happen,” says Liz
Matzke, marketing manager for WDE. One
day WDE’s team may be working on how
to get a 15,000-pound Italian feed mixer
with a foreign brand (thus unusable) trailer
hitch off a boat dock or making sure there’s
enough power at the pavilion to orchestrate
the housing, feeding, milking, cleaning and
grooming of thousands of cows plus some of
The 11 staff members and 500 volunteers who organize the WDE not only have
to be logistical masterminds, but also must
know how to get a 1,500-pound cow on
stage on time for a beauty contest.
Madison, Wis., welcomes a $30 million
bovine beauty show.
BY DONNA SMITH