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|National MooFest brings farmers and consumers together|
|News - Progressive Events|
|Written by PD Contributor Karma Fitzgerald|
|Wednesday, 09 May 2012 00:00|
Each year for the past several, she’s entered a contest at National MooFest, an Athens, Tennessee, event celebrating the community’s connection to dairy farmers. Click here or scroll down to see more details on MooFest.
Twice now, she’s won; once for using dairy products in a recipe and once for her homemade ice cream.
She said she and her husband, Dean, used to farm but when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, they sold all but a few acres. They still occasionally keep livestock around – a few chickens or a cow, which she spoils rotten.
“My friends always ask me when I’m going to move them into the house,” Holt said.
She entertains quite a bit and loves to cook – and cooks with dairy products often. A few years ago she entered a recipe for apple/cheddar scones with pear honey in one of the MooFest contests. She won.
Last year, after a decade of making homemade ice cream for friends and family she entered the ice cream contest and won for her recipe “Peanut Butter Euphoria.” Click here or scroll down below to see the recipe.
That netted her more than $1,000 in prize money and keeps her head busy with ideas for new recipes. She’s sworn to secrecy on this year’s entry but says everyone that’s tried it, “loves it.”
Holt’s passion for cooking started as a child – but by her 20s she couldn’t cook a thing so she made a commitment to learn to cook and did. Her passion for ice cream started about 10 years ago – she just started experimenting with different flavors and combinations.
Then she saw a chef on television suggest adding unflavored gelatin to her custard – the result is a creamier custard that doesn’t crystallize after being in the freezer a few days.
She says the gelatin along with a cooked custard that’s been refrigerated over night is her secret to success, but even over the phone it’s her passion for the product and the MooFest event that really puts her in the lead.
Holt, like the organizers of MooFest love this community and farmers that make it run. The event is designed around helping each other out, while at the same time promoting agriculture.
“Our goal is that no sports teams and youth organizations will never have to sell chocolate again,” said Richard Newman, one of a handful of people who got the event going five years ago.
That motivation not only keeps the event growing, it puts thousands of dollars back into community.
Volunteers keep the one-day event running and their service makes them eligible for donations back to their organization. From athletic programs to scholarship opportunities, the community gets a boost while at the same time making sure that consumers get to know their local farmers and dairy producers.
Newman said a local dairy company, Mayfield Dairy, had hosted a dairy festival for years, but that festival had started to flounder.
Newman says dairy owner Scottie Mayfield and another Mayfield employee came to him and his wife, Elaine, and asked them to find a way to breathe life back into a dairy-themed event.
“We were the ‘can’t say no’ people,” Newman said with a laugh.
He said he and Elaine don’t have much of a dairy background, but do have a passion for Athens. The couple runs a bed and breakfast in Athens and quickly used their contact list to put together an executive committee of eight people to get the event rolling, Newman said.
The first year, 12,000 people attended the event. Now, crowds run near 20,000.
This year, the Newmans turned over management to the Athens Chamber of Commerce.
“The main reason we host MooFest is to encourage awareness of the extensive role dairy plays in our past, present and future and that incorporates all agriculture,” said Karen Kelley, director of tourism for the chamber.
She said this year’s event is focused on family-friendly activities. Children can watch a puppet show or get their face painted. There are clowns and plenty of farm animals to see.
The event is also host to home and farm demonstrations including ice cream eating contests and butter churning. The creative event goer can show off skills like stacking scoops of ice cream and mooing. Mayfield Dairy hosts farm and plant tours, at no charge, throughout the day and a variety of performers will entertain on stage. The night is wrapped up with a concert from contemporary Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman.
Kelley said local farmers bring in their animals and their products to share with visitors. Consumers are able to talk directly to food producers. That’s the benefit to being involved, according to Eric McClain with the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association. SUDIA hosts a farmer image campaign called Dedicated to Dairy.
“Dedicated to Dairy provides an opportunity for consumers to hear about the good things dairy families do for the environment, their animals, and in producing such an important part of our food supply. And, best of all, to hear these good things straight from the source, dairy farmers themselves,” McClain said.
Randy Davis milks 500 head and farms in nearby Philadelphia, Tennessee. He says there are only about 400 dairy producers left in Tennessee -- a good chunk of them near Athens. Because so few are left, he thinks it’s more and more important to make sure consumers get to know them.
“People are so many generations away from the farm, they don’t know what we do anymore,” Davis said.
Davis said he helps in the SUDIA booth answering questions from consumers. Other area dairy producers help when they can get away from the farm – “just to let people know what dairies do for the community.”
In its relatively young history, MooFest has captured the attention of the entire community and surrounding area. The Athens Lions club hosts a fun-run the morning of the event. The downtown merchants sell their wares at sidewalk sales throughout the day.
Collectors and producers can view a display of the antique milk bottles at the McMinn Living Heritage Museum.
Dozens of local agencies and businesses support the event. Larger companies like Dunkin Donuts, Lamar and Walmart have signed on as sponsors.
More importantly, Richard Newman said, youth organizations have been able to buy uniforms, provide scholarships and purchase equipment without having to sell candy door-to-door. “Over the first four years we’ve put $70,000 back into the community,”
Newman said. “It figures to be $10 to $11 per man-hour. It’s been a joy to do that.” PD
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Heat 3 cups milk and vanilla over medium heat until steaming.
Whisk egg yolks and condensed milk together until smooth.
Gradually pour in the hot milk stirring quickly.
Return to hot pan and cook over medium heat until it coats the back of a wooden spoon; stir continually. Do not allow to boil.
Strain custard. Stir in the softened gelatin until it is dissolved. Stir in the remaining milk and peanut butter until smooth. Chill in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours.
Add the chocolate candy and reese cups.
Freeze in electric freezer according to the directions.