Richland Co. Dairy Breakfast returns as drive-thru

The event is one of the first in the area to come back since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
Updated: Jun. 20, 2021 at 7:58 PM CDT
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RICHLAND CENTER, Wis. (WMTV) - Just in time for June Dairy Month, Richland County held their 40th annual Dairy Breakfast Sunday morning, one of the first such events in the area to return since the COVID-19 pandemic started, but things looked a little different. Instead of people flocking to a county farm, organizers set up the event at the Richland County Fairgrounds and ran it as a drive-thru.

“This is better than nothing, this was better than last year,” said organizer Annette Louis.

In 2020, Louis had to cancel the Dairy Breakfast because of the pandemic, but this year, she was determined to help hundreds of people sample what area farms have to offer, even if she could not get right back to normal. She and her fellow organizers decided to hold the drive-thru breakfast and moved the event to the fairgrounds because it had the necessary space.

“We do have a host farm for we’ll be back on the farm in a year,” Louis explained.

Beth Schaefer, regional program manager for Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, said the return of these events “post-pandemic” helps people connect with farmers in their community.

“National Dairy Month is just an opportunity for people to get to see what goes on at farms and to hear firsthand how our dairy farmers are taking care of their animals and they’re caring for the land,” Schaefer explained.

Even without being on a farm, volunteers and people attending Richland County’s Dairy Breakfast are still hoping they can encourage kids and adults to think more about where their food comes from.

“It’s just nice for especially the young kids to know it just doesn’t come from a grocery store, so it takes a lot of work and effort,” said Logan Olson, who comes to the Dairy Breakfast every year.

Raymond Schmitz, who also came Sunday, said, “I would hope they would look for the origin of the product and realize what work goes into each product.”

Schmitz and his wife Sylvia hosted the first Dairy Breakfast 40 years ago, and they said getting young people interested in agriculture is another benefit of these events.

“I think it’s much more exciting for the young people to come out to a farm and experience what livestock looks like and how the cows are fed and how they are milked. It’s a memory type of thing for the young children,” he explained.

That tradition of passing on a love of agriculture goes back generations – from the people making Sunday’s food to the people eating it.

“I was here when I was [my son’s] size, so it’s a nice thing for the community every year,” said Olson, who brought his baby son to the event.

Louis added, “I’ve got families that I’m friends with for those 40 years and now it’s their kids’ kids helping...There’s three generations over there, stirring up pancake batter for us.”

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin also told NBC15 in June, they have seen record turnout at dairy events supporting local farmers – like these county dairy breakfasts.

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