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September 2008 Archive for Dairy Today Expo Extra

RSS By: Catherine Merlo, Dairy Today

Dairy Today's Catherine Merlo brings you the latest from the World Dairy Expo.

Laugh out loud at Expo

Sep 29, 2008
By Catherine Merlo
The first time I met Leigh Rubin, I was already laughing.
I had wandered by his booth during World Dairy Expo 2006 and picked up one of his cartoon books. The first cartoon I saw made me laugh out loud. Before I knew it, I was drawn into Leigh’s world, a place where cows, people and other animals show their funny, slice-of-life, sometimes sardonic, side.
I looked up and saw a short, unassuming man with round, wire-rimmed glasses and dark, curly hair watching me quizzically.
“These are so funny,” I said.
“Thank you,” replied Leigh.
“These are yours?” I asked incredulously. (How rude of me, now that I think about it.)
One of Leigh Rubin's cow cartoons.
Turns out, it was Leigh’s first appearance at Expo and the cartoons were from his daily “Rubes” cartoon panels. Since 1989, Rubes has been syndicated by Creators Syndicate to over 400 newspapers and magazines worldwide. To top it off, Leigh is from California, my home state. He, however, lives on the beautiful Central Coast, a glamorous setting compared to meat-and-potatoes Bakersfield.
Leigh attends several shows around the country each year promoting Rubes. He’s come to rank World Dairy Expo as one of his favorites. “The shows are always fun and my humor seems to really be appreciated,” he says. “I enjoy Expo as I meet so many interesting people from around the world, not to mention Madison is a fun town.”
I’m no stranger to Leigh’s work anymore. I have several of his books, a Rubes T-shirt, greeting cards and his “Zoo in a Box” calendars. In fact, I give Leigh’s calendars as Christmas presents. The students in my husband’s high school social studies classes love Leigh’s calendar. It’s the kind where you tear off each page to find a new cartoon each day. The students can’t resist turning the pages to see what’s next.
There are some people who inexplicably spark our laughter. Leigh does that for me. It took getting out of my everyday world to discover a new wellspring of inspiration and laughter – and about cows, no less! World Dairy Expo can do that.
Does a cartoonist belong at World Dairy Expo? Covering the dairy industry typically isn’t a barrel of laughs. It’s a tough business. The producers I talk to these days are keeping their noses to the grindstone as they try to survive high feed and fuel costs, daunting regulations, and an increasingly demanding market.
But, sometimes, we need to step back, breathe deeply –- and laugh. It’s good, simple, inexpensive therapy. If you’re in need of such a treatment, stop by Leigh’s booth next week in Exhibition Hall, space C-1. That’s across from the ice cream stand. If you won’t be at Expo, log on to http://www.creators.com/comics/rubes.html for more about Leigh and his Rubes cartoons.

Behind the Virtual Farm Tour

Sep 29, 2008

By Catherine Merlo 


Oregon dairy producer Dan Bansen will travel more than 3,000 miles round-trip next week to tell the dairy world how his family succeeded in building a top-ranked registered Jersey operation.

Bansen is one of eight North American dairy operations featured in World Dairy Expo’s 2008 Virtual Farm Tour program in Madison, Wis.

These Virtual Farm Tours are among my favorite parts of Expo. For a good hour, each carefully chosen producer uses audiovisuals to bring his or her operation to the Expo audience. Each shares information only a hands-on producer can impart. They’re often joined in the room by their proud families.

Those producers who make the Virtual Farm Tour grade are the “cream of the crop,” says Dr. Cherie Bayer, with the American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA).

Oregon's Dan and Judy Bansen will tell Expo how they built a top Jersey herd.

Bayer’s group is sponsoring Bansen’s appearance at Expo at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 1. Bansen will tell how his family’s Forest Glen Jerseys rose from a herd of unregistered dairy cows to a highly profitable milk-producing business. The operation also holds a globally recognized brand of Registered Jersey™ genetics based on their performance in other herds.

“Dan is one of our best people,” Bayer says.


It’s the fourth time a candidate from the American Jersey Cattle Association has been selected for Expo’s Virtual Farm Tour.

Each year, 10 to 15 applicants vie for one of the eight Virtual Farm Tour slots, says Liz Matzke, who handles the program for World Dairy Expo. Hopeful organizations begin submitting their candidates as soon as Expo ends each autumn. In submitting a candidate, they’ve got to show that their applicant has a unique hook that makes him or her stand out.

In Bansen’s case, it was not only how his family built its herd but how Forest Glen Jerseys became one of the top breeders of Jersey bulls for A.I. The dairy also transitioned to organic production 12 years ago.

Once an organization gets the good news that its candidate has been selected, it gets to work. (It also pays $500 to help Expo cover advertising costs.)

For Ohio-based Bayer, that meant a trip to Oregon and two days of videotaping operations, shooting still photos and interviewing Bansen. Then it was back home to Ohio to create a PowerPoint presentation with embedded video.

Bansen will narrate the presentation live at his Oct. 1 Virtual Farm Tour. There’s no cost to attend the session.

The cost to produce Bansen’s presentation may reach $3,500, Bayer estimates. That’s counting the cost of travel and lodging for shooting the video in Oregon, the time needed to produce the final presentation in AJCA's Ohio office, and bringing Bansen to Madison. But it’s worth it, says Bayer.

“We get a lot of publicity by being a sponsor,” she says. “It’s a good PR tool for us externally and also for the people we’ve featured. We get so much more than just that one hour in Madison.”

Bayer believes the Virtual Farm Tours expand the educational offering at Expo. “Really,” she says, “more companies should at least consider participating in this program.”

Read more about Expo’s upcoming Virtual Farm Tours at: http://www.world-dairy-expo.com/nws.display.cfm?RecordId=360.



Planes, Trains – and World Dairy Expo

Sep 29, 2008
By Catherine Merlo

Ever see the Steve Martin-John Candy movie, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles?” In that road comedy, a businessman endures a frustrating but very funny ordeal as he tries to get home to Chicago from a New York City meeting.
A trip to World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., can be just like that, especially if you’re traveling from Bakersfield, Calif., home of Dairy Today’s Western office.
Oh, yeah, been there, done that. Getting to Expo from the West requires a full day of travel, with the ever-possible chance of flight delays, an all-night stay at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, and a three-hour bus ride from the Windy City to Madison after your flight’s been cancelled. Then, there’s all the fun of renting a car and trying to find the hotel. And, of course, Expo offers that long week away from home, family and comfortable routine.
But as I plan my fourth trip to World Dairy Expo, which runs from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 this year, I’m looking past all that. I’m remembering the brisk morning walk from the ocean-sized parking lot at the Alliant Energy Center to the Exhibition Hall. 
World Dairy Expo's main street, looking toward the barns and the Coliseum.
 I’m picturing the long sidewalk lined with autumn-leaved trees and the white barns, the well-groomed cows being led and washed and fed. I’m seeing the hundreds of commercial exhibits, the show ring in the Coliseum, the upstairs media center, the food booths, and the huge farm equipment displays filling the concrete lot outside of the Exhibition Hall.
I’m also thinking ahead to the people who’ll be there, those I know but rarely see, including my Minneapolis-based editor, Jim Dickrell, and Dairy Today’s publisher, Bill Newham, and his assistant Ramona Rei, from Kansas City.
Dairy Today’s sales team, Sue Lee and Lori Lulich, will be there too. So will our new Beef Today editor, Kim Watson, from San Antonio, Texas. I’ll see Expo’s Lisa Behnke and Liz Matzke, and Annette (the lady who runs the Purple Cow gift shop), and the funny cow cartoonist, Leigh Rubin.
And I’ll see many of the 67,000 dairy industry people from some 90 countries who attend this gigantic show. I won’t know many of them but I’ll be watching, listening and asking a lot of questions. 
A show ring hopeful leads her cow to the Coliseum at Expo.
This year, I’ll be reporting online to you every day about World Dairy Expo. As members of the news media, Jim and I cover the Virtual Farm Tours, the educational seminars and the news conferences. We meet with advertisers, visit dozens of booths, and talk to many people. We stroll through the barns and watch the cattle exhibitions and auctions in the show ring. There’s a lot going on at Expo, and we get a front-row seat to much of it.
Starting today--a week before World Dairy Expo officially begins-- I’ll post dispatches about the hectic show week through this “Dairy Today’s Expo Extra.” Each day I’ll report on what I’ve seen and heard, who I’ve met, and the behind-the-scenes discussions that really make Expo worthwhile.
And, if my flight gets diverted to Wichita, or I get stuck beside a Del Griffith, or my rental car catches on fire, don’t worry--I’ll keep you posted on that too.
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