2017 theme is ‘Makin It Happen’
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — What began as a salute to the rich dairy industry in the greater Marshfield area has grown to become an annual festival that welcomes over 20,000 people to the city. Dairyfest’s diverse events, as well as those that coincide with the weekend, make it a popular draw for all ages, evidenced by it winning the award for Best of Marshfield’s top Family Friendly Event.
How it began
“36 years ago, Elmer Frey, Les Leonard, and Marilyn Hardacre held a dairy breakfast at the UW-Marshfield Ag Research Station,” explained Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MACCI) Program Director Debbie Bauer. “They served 100 people in the auditorium and felt it was quite successful. Les was involved with WDLB Radio; Elmer, a successful business owner at Rollohome; and Marilyn, then the mayor of Marshfield, felt it was important to recognize the Marshfield area’s agriculture, and this was the answer.
“The following year the breakfast outgrew the auditorium, and the breakfast was moved to the machine shed. Down the road, the machine shed got a cement floor, and attendance continued to grow.”
Each year more and more events were added to Marshfield’s Dairyfest, including Picnic in the Park, the parade, the Cheese Chase, the pie and ice cream social, and more.
“These were some of the staples of this event that still take place today,” added Bauer. “Through the years other nonprofit organizations have created an event to take place Dairyfest weekend and use this as a fundraising opportunity.”
By the numbers
MACCI estimates that Dairyfest brings over 20,000 people into the Marshfield community throughout the weekend. The pie and ice cream social draws roughly 800, the Cheese Chase 900, the Mayor’s Breakfast serves 2,100, Picnic in the Park averages 2,500, and 14,000 attend the parade.
The 2017 Dairyfest Parade
MACCI is currently accepting applications for the 2017 Dairyfest parade. The parade is scheduled for June 3, stepping off at 11 a.m. from the corner of Second Street and Central Avenue, traveling east on 14th Street, and ending at the intersection of Cherry Avenue and 14th Street.
Applications may be picked up at the MACCI office. The application deadline is Tuesday, May 23.
This year’s Dairyfest theme is “Makin It Happen,” and the Dairyfest parade marshal will be Shirley Mook. Mook has been a vital part of the annual celebration through the past decades and will be honored for her service to Marshfield.
For additional information, contact the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry at 715-384-3454, or visit marshfieldchamber.com.