By Ann O'Leary
It's almost June Dairy Month! Have you decided how you will celebrate Wisconsin’s signature industry?
Each year, Wisconsin dairy farms contribute $43.4 billion to our state’s economy. That is almost half of all economic activity from Wisconsin agriculture. In fact, Wisconsin’s dairy industry means more to our state than citrus to Florida and potatoes to Idaho.
There are many ways you can celebrate June Dairy Month with your families — all of which, of course, involve Wisconsin dairy! If you already live on a farm, consider having an open house and allowing friends and community members to come visit you so they can see what happens firsthand at your operation. If you are not on a farm, you can attend a June Dairy Month Breakfast to get up close and personal with some cows, or enjoy a nice ice cream sundae made with Wisconsin ice cream.
First ice cream sundae
And speaking of ice cream sundaes, did you know Wisconsin was home to the first one?
According to the National Register of Historic Places, Two Rivers is the birthplace of this beloved concoction. Back in 1881, Ed Berner of Two Rivers was asked to put chocolate sauce used in ice cream sodas on top a dish of ice cream. The creation quickly gained popularity and was only sold on Sundays at Berner’s soda fountain — hence the name ice cream sundae. Soon the sundae could be bought every day of the week, and it spread across the nation.
Whether you like chocolate sauce or strawberry toppings on your ice cream sundae, eating one during the month of June is a perfect way to enjoy the rich tradition of Wisconsin’s dairy industry.
If sweets are not up your alley and you prefer something savory, try creating a summer cheese board with real Wisconsin cheese. With 600 different types, styles and varieties to choose from, your Wisconsin cheese board is sure to please all. You can add the Wisconsin staple, cheddar, or the Wisconsin original, colby. No matter the type or flavor of cheese you choose, as long as it is from Wisconsin, it will be a perfect snack. Additionally, your purchase of Wisconsin dairy will help support our farmers, community and economy.
A fond farewell
While celebrating June Dairy Month will be quite fun, it is a little bitter sweet. June marks the end of my year as Alice in Dairyland and the beginning of my next adventure. I cannot thank Wisconsin’s agricultural industry enough for all of the support it has given me throughout the last year. It was this support that inspired me every day to share the stories of hardworking Wisconsin farm families, and the experiences I have had over the past year have left impressions on my heart that will last a lifetime.
Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Thank you to the Wisconsin agricultural community for making me feel at home. I am so honored to have served as your 69th Alice in Dairyland.
Learn more about June Dairy Month celebrations at dairydaysofsummer.com.
Ann O’Leary is the 69th Alice in Dairyland. She is the niece of editor Fran O’Leary.