LE MARS, Iowa — Attendees of the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, IA scheduled for Wednesday, July 24th through Sunday, July 28th will have the opportunity to view aspects of the dairy industry when visiting the famous Tonsfeldt Round Barn agricultural educational exhibit. Once again, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Plymouth County will be part of the team for the Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee to feature an agricultural education exhibit inside the round barn.
This marks the sixth year the Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee has focused on displaying an agricultural exhibit. Jordan Sitzmann, the Vice President for the Chamber of Commerce – Agriculture Division says the committee decided to feature the many aspects of the local dairy industry. “Discover Dairy” is the theme for the exhibit as part of the overall continuous theme of “aROUND the farm in the BARN”.
Sitzmann says, “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.” Sitzmann continued to add, “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. Too many people just think those products come from their local grocery store, or supermarket. We want to make the connection with consumers that their favorite dairy foods go all the way back to the cow.”
“The dairy industry plays an important economic role for Le Mars, Plymouth County, and across northwest Iowa”, said Sitzmann. 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,” added Sitzmann. “The employment goes beyond the region’s dairy processors. Think about all the employees on the dairy farm, the truck drivers, the feed specialists, those at a 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.”
This year when people visit the famous round barn, it will be as if they are stepping inside the new dairy parlor farm, Perry Creek Dairy, located west of Le Mars. Perry Creek Dairy, which began operations in late February, has a unique carousel system in which the cows’ step on the carousel and then are milked while the carousel rotates. Life-size photos will illustrate to visitors the modern way of milking as performed at the Perry Creek Dairy farm.
Inside the round barn, educational exhibits will be displayed from each of the FFA chapters from 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 inside the round barn. 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 famous 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. The milking trailer demonstration will feature a 30 – 45 minute slide show presentation, three times daily during the fair, and will stress the nutritional value of milk.
“We are excited to feature the educational dairy trailer”, said Sitzmann. “The educational milking trailer will serve as the second half of the overall dairy educational effort at the Plymouth County Fair. 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.”
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 much more. The Siouxland Ag in the Classroom, along with some area FFA chapters will be operating the virtual 3-D tour. The Virtual Dairy Tour will take place on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday beginning at 6:00 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,” said Sitzmann. “The Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee wants to thank all the wonderful sponsors that have contributed to make our agricultural education exhibit one of the best in the state,” said Sitzmann.
— Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
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