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World Dairy Expo: Where dreams come true … and fairy tales too

Rebecca Shaw for Progressive Dairyman Published on 15 September 2017

What is it that you want to do? What’s your dream come true at World Dairy Expo (WDE)?

Become an elite judge? WDE has the world’s most challenging and (arguably) rewarding contest.



Find the best cheese curd? Don’t bother searching – it’s the garlic dill.

Meet lifelong friends? That’ll probably happen celebrating supreme champion on Saturday evening.

Or maybe, it isn’t something quite as predictable.

Fueling a passion through a career

WDE has been something I’ve attended since I was 8 years old. It was a vacation that my siblings and I looked forward to all year. At the age of 25, I’m still attending, except it’s even cooler because I’m getting paid to be here. Perks of a great gig, right?

I never thought I’d end up at WDE chasing after a dream career. My journey started in 2012 when I was competing on the Penn State dairy judging team. My coach (shout out to Dale Olver) introduced me to Josh Hushon, whom I interviewed with for an internship at Bader Rutter, a successful and respected marketing agency. It was during that summer that I learned my passion still lied within the dairy industry, but I needed a creative outlet too.


After graduating from Penn State, I joined Cargill’s marketing team in 2014, moving specifically to a dairy marketing role in early 2015. Josh joined the dairy team not long after that (it’s a small world), and the team has added several incredible teammates over the past two years. Through this position, I’ve been able to work with our dairy sales team and customers on a variety of projects. I’ve learned valuable life lessons, made a lot of great friends and been able to hear the stories of dairy producers all over the country. Getting to work within the dairy industry and for a business that I believe in is rewarding and drives me to be the best version of myself.

Little did I know that over these past three years, I would also be a key part in leading our plans for WDE. It’s crazy how I went from spending 12 hours in a car (bonding, kind of) with family to being a part of the show professionally. Go after what fuels your passion!

Fall in love …

WDE can also be a place to fall in love … with something other than the grilled cheese. It sounds impossible, but just ask Mandy Brazil and Graisson Schmidt. Mandy, a California native, met Graisson originally in passing at a California state show where he was working as a fitter. They exchanged numbers, should they ever cross paths in Wisconsin, Graisson’s home state.

Mandy spent that summer as an intern in Wisconsin, and even ended up making a visit to Graisson’s family farm. However, Graisson wasn’t home, and everything remained a friendship. It wasn’t until that fall when Mandy was interning as a show ring photographer at WDE that they met up. Though Mandy isn’t a believer in fate, she does remember the exact moment that she realized this was something special: Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, at World Dairy Expo outside the tent after a cow named Seisme had been named grand champion. It was there that they had their first real conversation that made them both realize, “Yeah … this could be something good.”

From finding a diamond ring in a show box after chores at a cow show, to engagement photos on the WDE grounds, to getting married in California, the Schmidts found their happy ending. Mandy reflects on it all, saying, “World Dairy Expo will be continuously evolving and new memories will forever be made. Yet, the little bit of expo magic that sparked our love story will be forever in our hearts.”

I know – this all sounds cheesy. But think about it. WDE is a place where people from all over the world come together for one common purpose: a love for the dairy cow. From the first supreme champion cow in 1970 to a 50th anniversary celebration in 2017, who knows what could happen next? Your dreams could come true, and it might just change your life.  end mark


Rebecca Shaw
  • Rebecca Shaw

  • Dairy Marketing Specialist
  • Cargill