WDE. As a meeting professional, I typically
spend a lot of time examining the logistics.”
MORE THAN A CO W IN A PRE T TY DRESS
“The theme is a fantastic opportunity to rebrand each year and build the excitement,”
Announced a year in advance, the motif
is the touchstone of the event and a group
participation sport where creativity gets
milked. With the Designer Dairy theme, the
coliseum created an elaborate set reminiscent of a Paris haute couture fashion show,
including life-size sculptures of avant-gar-de-painted cows standing on the catwalk.
Brightly colored shavings are strewn
on the ;loor and 15-foot banners depicting
cows in fashionable dress line the coliseum’s walls.
“We’re thinking about those people that
have been planning to come to WDE their
whole life,” Matzke says. “We want them
to walk in to the showring and be overwhelmed with excitement. Our exhibitors
get excited too, and work the theme into
their advertising and displays. It keeps the
passion of the event going on all year long.”
Eight hot topics for educational sessions
are vetted by a committee of experts in the
industry, and speakers must be the predominant experts in their ;ield.
“We want speakers that have done the
actual scienti;ic research,” Bentley says.
Speaker Sarah Cornelisse, senior extension associate, Penn State University, says
topical, value-added products resonate with
an industry that is largely dependent on
uncontrollable factors such as weather to
make a pro;it.
“For some producers, a value-added en-
terprise will be a bene;icial addition to the
business, allowing them to increase pro;it-
ability, expand the business for additional
family members or pursue a passion for a
product, such as cheese,” she says.
Marieke Penterman knows the bene;it of
value-added products, and it’s all due to her
love of cheese. Born a farm girl in the Netherlands, she came to Wisconsin to marry
fellow farmer Rolf Penterman.
“I knew he was the one because while
dating he promised to take me to World
Dairy Expo,” she says.
Penterman delved into the cheese market when they stopped importing her beloved Gouda from Holland and decided to
make her own, despite not knowing anything about the process. She captured a gold
award at the U.S. Champion Cheese Contest
then went on to win the 2013 U.S. Grand
Located in Thorp, Wis., her business
replicates a wine-tasting vineyard in its pre-
sentation. The public can tour two facilities:
the Penterman Farm and Marieke’s Gouda
Store and cheese-making facility. The farm
has large viewing windows where the pub-
lic can see cows relax in free-stall barns and
enjoy the “cow spa.”
At the store and cheese-making facility,
visitors view cows getting milked, follow the
milk pipeline into the cheese-making center
and then end at the store to watch Gouda
cooking demonstrations. The complex was
selected this year for a WDE virtual tour,
in which WDE assists by writing the script,
taping the walking tour and providing all
the technical support at the event.
“For some people it is a lifetime goal to
get to the WDE and we want this to be a
memorable event,” Matzke says. “We want
WDE to be their family.” ■
and Dane County for almost 50 years, these
counties embrace this event, even structuring the design of its convention facilities to
provide the highest quality agricultural requirements.
The Alliant Energy Center is a 164-acre
campus that houses two recently built Holland Pavilions, collectively accommodating
2,600 cattle. These cow palaces have covered wash bays, manure storage, outdoor
walkways and access to milking parlors.
Handlers usually sleep near their cattle, and
the result is a combination slumber party
and networking session.
The 75,000-square-foot Veterans Memorial Coliseum is cow-show central, making
plenty of room for cows such as Venus to
make her “Here She Comes” walk down the
Wi-Fi and PA systems are the lifeline of
organizing the show, keeping the humans
aware when their cows need to be front and
center. Events in the arena are broadcast live
throughout the complex and videos of all education sessions, including the Virtual Farm
Tours, go on WDE’s website the next day.
“Our goal is to make this ;ive-day event a
yearlong engagement. We know everyone
can’t make every event so we bring the conference to them,” Matzke says.
To accommodate the seminars and vendors utilizing the exhibition hall, the facility
offers 150,000 square feet of convention
space and 100,000 square feet of unobstructed exhibit space.
“I have attended the show and it’s nothing
like I’ve ever experienced before,” says Jodi
Goldbeck, CMP (MPI Wisconsin Chapter),
meeting and event management instructor,
Madison Area Technical College. “Madison
College has a course called Exhibition Management and the class often gets a tour of
“The theme is a
ty to rebrand each
year and build the