Climbing out of Expo

Published on: 14:03PM Oct 06, 2008
By Catherine Merlo
I’m good for the first three or four days of World Dairy Expo. Everything still looks shiny and new to me. I’m happy to see everyone. The meetings are interesting. The food tastes great.
By Thursday, however, I’m climbing more slowly out of bed when the alarm goes off. I’m missing my 12-year-old son and my husband and our life in California. The drive from my hotel starts to feel like a commute. The meetings begin to seem repetitive. I crave home-cooked meals.
It isn’t until I get back to California that the full weight of Expo lifts, and I begin to sort the wheat from the chaff. And there’s always plenty of wheat, enough to fuel me for months.
In the thick Expo folder I bring home with me, there are names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of people I can call for stories, quotes and answers. There are new topics presented and discussed at Expo that I can turn into stories. There’s new understanding of dairy issues, relationships and business.
And, among the brochures, plastic-wrapped cheese samples, freebie pens and other souvenirs, there’s always a new World Dairy Expo T-shirt or sweatshirt from the Purple Cow gift shop.
A World Dairy Expo T-shirt bound for California.
Every year for the past four years, I’ve brought home an article of clothing from Expo. I often wear one on my daily walk-jog with my dog. Seeing the shirt’s logo, people sometimes ask me, “What’s World Dairy Expo? Is that like the Kern County Fair? Or the Tulare Farm Show?” (Most people in the San Joaquin Valley, at least those I know, still haven’t learned to say “World Ag Expo.”)
I try to tell them. I really do. But unless they’ve been to Expo, I can’t make them grasp the enormity and the impact of this five-day show. They can’t understand the hectic schedule that keeps the Dairy Today staff – and many, many other attendees – hopping from morning ‘til night. They can’t appreciate the tension of the judging competitions and the auctions. And most can’t identify with the millions of dollars and the business that Expo generates.
As for my family and my dog, they only understand that I’m back home. They don’t really want to hear much about that place in Wisconsin with all the cows and people. All they want to know is, “What’s for dinner?”
That’s just fine with me, because for three or four days, everything in Bakersfield looks shiny and new to me. I’m happy to see everyone. The food tastes great. By the fourth day, of course, I’m climbing more slowly out of bed when the alarm goes off.
Merlo’s “Dairy Today Expo Extra” blog ends today. But you can keep up with her Dairy Today articles all year long – as well as those by award-winning editor Jim Dickrell and a variety of dairy columnists – by logging daily on to