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50 years and counting: The continuing Hetts family legacy at World Dairy Expo

Kathleen O’Keefe for Progressive Dairyman Published on 30 September 2016
Matt Lintvedt, Rhonds (Hetts) Shore, Doris Hetts, Lucas Hetts, Rodney Hetts and Roy Hetts

As World Dairy Expo celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016, the name Allen Hetts will be mentioned over and over again.

More than any other person, Hetts, along with a small, passionate group of Wisconsin dairy cattle breeders, is attributed with the inspiration and motivation that founded a new, major dairy cattle show in Madison, Wisconsin.

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He, in fact, appears on the cover of We Need A Show, the 50-year history book of World Dairy Expo published by the organization in 2015.

As most dairy show enthusiasts know, the pre-eminent dairy show in the U.S. for the first half of the 20th century was the National Dairy Cattle Congress held every fall in Waterloo, Iowa.

By the mid-1960s, the breed shows there were in decline, and the aforementioned concerned group of Wisconsin breeders, led by Hetts, had the focus and determination – and found the money – to start the expo in September 1967.

The show survived its tenuous early years and the rest, as they say, is history. Today, World Dairy Expo is one of the top trade shows in the U.S. and hosts close to 2,500 head of the finest purebred dairy show cattle in North America. Allen Hetts passed away in 1973 at the age of 52 and thus never saw the tremendous growth of the event he helped push through its rocky start.

Allen is survived by his wife, Doris; sons, Roy and Rodney; and daughters, Rhonda, Renee and Randy. There from the very early days, the family has continued to support World Dairy Expo through the following decades.

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Roy Hetts will emphasize one thing over and over: His dad loved showing cows. “That was what he was good at,” Roy says. “He had early success, and that was the way he was going to promote his cattle.”

Crescent Beauty Farm was located only 30 miles from Madison in nearby Fort Atkinson, so the Hetts family could take a string to the show and still get back to the farm to do business selling genetics to visitors, especially those from foreign countries eager to obtain some of the show-winning Crescent Beauty bloodlines.

And win they did. The small, purebred herd produced numerous All-American winners and even exhibited the grand champion Holstein at the first WDE show, Bayland Crescent Charmaine.

Allen Heets in 1967 World Dairy Expo with the grand champion

The cow most closely linked to the Hetts name undoubtedly is Gene-Acres Felicia May Fury. Purchased by Allen and Roy in 1969, she was a consistent winner at the highest levels.

After Allen’s death, the majority of the herd was sold, including Felicia May, but her new owner housed her at Crescent Beauty Farm and, in 1974, in an emotional win for the family, she was named grand champion of the Holstein Show at World Dairy Expo, with Roy on the halter.

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Roy Hetts with winner Felicia May Fury

The Crescent Beauty herd continued to produce winners and exhibit at the expo until the final dispersal in 1988.

After the dispersal, Roy embarked on a long career as a classifier with the Holstein Association but still contributed to World Dairy Expo, albeit in less visible roles than leading winners on the colored shavings.

For 20 years, he was an official judge with the post-secondary dairy cattle judging contest and followed that up by serving six years as an official judge for the intercollegiate contest.

Rhonda Hetts Shore reflects fondly on the many friendships made at the show. “The anticipation of getting everyone together in Madison each year to compete and renew these friendships was always something to look forward to,” she says. Rhonda also treasures the memories of her father doing what he loved: exhibiting the family’s Holsteins.

“The pictures we have of my dad showing Crescent Beauty Talent (All-American Aged Bull in 1969) are priceless to our family,” she says. “Gene Acres Felicia May Fury was the pride of the Crescent Beauty show string for a number of years, and both were grand champions at the expo.”

Rhonda, along with her brother Rodney and her son, Matt Lintvedt (Majestic View Genetics), still own and exhibit Holsteins at the expo with a great deal of success. Last year, they exhibited in partnership the All-American Red & White Milking Yearling, Miss Hot Mama-Red-ET, a young cow that won her class. They will once again have a show string at Madison in 2016, and Rhonda is looking forward to the experience.

“This is a special year for my family and for many others as well that have been long-time exhibitors, participants, volunteers, etc.,” she says. “We are planning a special exhibit this year with memorabilia from past years at Crescent Beauty Farm. My son keeps me involved and challenged with his growing interest in this business, so we will continue as we have year after year supporting and being part of World Dairy Expo.”

Fans of the dairy cattle shows at the expo hear the name Allen Hetts mentioned often throughout the week as the grand champion of each breed receives the champion trophy named in tribute to him.

Both Roy and Rhonda acknowledge it’s a great honor for the family, but it is not a family-sponsored award. The idea was initiated by the World Dairy Expo board of directors many years ago, and the tradition has continued through the decades.

Roy and Rhonda also emphasize one more crucial element that helped bring their father’s dream of a top-class show in Madison to reality: Allen’s wife, and their mother, Doris Hetts.

“Mom made whatever Dad wanted to do come to fruition,” Roy recalls. “She handled all of the correspondence and kept everything organized. He couldn’t have done what he did without her.”

Rhonda concurs enthusiastically, “She was behind the scenes doing whatever needed to be done to make everything work for our entire family. She was the glue that held everything together.”

Fittingly, along with the 50th Anniversary of World Dairy Expo, October will mark the 94th birthday of Doris – a month full of celebration for the Hetts family.  end mark

Born and raised on a Wisconsin dairy farm, Kathleen O’Keefe is a freelance writer and lifelong purebred dairy cattle enthusiast. She currently resides in Hammond, Wisconsin.

PHOTO 1: The book We Need a Show tells the 50-year history of World Dairy Expo, highlighting the late Allen Hetts’ contributions to the event. Pictured are members of Hetts’ family (left to right): Matt Lintvedt, Rhonda (Hetts) Shore, Doris Hetts (Allen’s wife), Lucas Hetts, Rodney Hetts and Roy Hetts.

PHOTO 2: Allen Hetts pictured here with 1967 World Dairy Expo grand champion Holstein, Bayland Crescent Charmaine.

PHOTO 3: Rhonda Shore fondly recalls Gene Acres Felicia May Fury as “the pride of the Crescent Beauty show string for a number of years.” At the halter is Roy Hetts. Photos courtesy of World Dairy Expo.

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