Hard work? Yes. Dedication? Certainly. But don’t discount the role tradition plays in helping farm families consistenly come out on top in the World Dairy Expo (WDE) Showring.
For Bryan Voegeli, Voegeli Brown Swiss, Monticello, Wis., tradition traces back to 1854, when his Swiss ancestors homesteaded the farm where he now lives. His family registered the first Brown Swiss cow in 1895. His children, Brienna, 24, and Christopher, 21, are the sixth generation on the family farm.
The Voegelis also have a strong connection to WDE. Bryan’s dad, Howard, helped organize the first WDE in the late 1960s. His grandfather, Jacob, was the first to represent the Voegelis in the Showring at Expo.
It’s this sense of tradition, Bryan says, that has been responsible for the family’s successes in the Expo Showring. The Voegelis have won Grand Champion honors in the International Brown Swiss Show four times and registered multiple class wins.
“It’s hard to explain why you want to put in all of the hard work, time and money it takes to compete,” Bryan says. “There’s a passion that goes with this. I saw it in my grandfather and my dad. Now, I see it in my kids. They’re always looking at cow families and new bulls to use. They’re very involved in planning what we’re going to do next year. I love seeing that.”
Brienna, who takes a week off from her nursing job to work at Expo, also feels the tradition. “I’m so proud when I think about what my grandpa, my great grandpa and my dad did,” she says, noting family members touch a picture of Howard before entering the Showring.
“It might sound a little corny," she says "But we see it as a reminder of what’s important to us as a family. We want to carry on that legacy.”