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Progressive Events: ‘Little Madison’ was big winner for exhibitors of first annual Dairyland Classic in Georgia

Sherry Bunting for Progressive Dairy Published on 25 November 2020
Kevin Lutz Judged all 5 breeds

Georgia dairy producers Carol Williams of WDairy and Jay Moon of Moon Dairy heard in mid-June of fall show cancellations after already losing the spring shows to Covid-19; they knew they had to do something.

They put together a small committee with Carol serving as show superintendent and Jay as co-superintendent and started raising funds.

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“The response from companies was overwhelming,” says Carol. “Once we had the funding coming in, we knew we would have the draw in premiums. The generous sponsorships included some very good premiums and prizes.”

The first annual Dairyland Classic was born in Madison, Georgia – held Sept. 30 to Oct. 3 at the Morgan County Ag Center – and dubbed by exhibitors as “Little Madison.”

Three months of planning turned into a big event attracting 80 exhibitors, 222 entries from eight Southeastern states clear up to Pennsylvania – many making it double as a vacation to enjoy the Southern charm and historic district of Madison, with its rich agricultural history.

Carol and Jay say their committee was fortunate to bring in Kevin Lutz of Treasure Chest Jerseys, Lincolntown, North Carolina, to judge five breeds – Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Holstein (Black and Red combined) and Jersey. His family’s Jersey farm dates back to the 1890s, and he has judged many premier events in the U.S. and abroad.

The committee decorated the grounds for the feel of a party, setting up tables and chairs for people to visit. They had a macaroni and cheese supper followed by an ice cream social on opening night.

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“We easily fed over 150 people,” Carol relates. “The milk, cheese and ice cream were all donated by local creameries.”

Facebook comments were glowing. Participants said it felt like they stepped out of their trucks to find Southern hospitality to the max.

“That’s what we wanted,” says Carol. “With the tents and the lights and the atmosphere, we had fun.”

The work paid off. For many of the breeders and exhibitors traveling up to 12 hours to get there, this was their first show of the year. In a normal year, they would have been to five or six shows by October. And this one was memorable.

In addition to type classes for juniors and open combined, as well as showmanship, the Dairyland Classic featured a jackpot showmanship class for youth 16 and up. They could show with their own animal or borrow one. The entry fee was $25 – winner-take-all.

“We had 39 people in the jackpot,” Jay relates. “The youth who won supreme showmanship were the jackpot judges. It was a fun event.”

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“We know we’ll pick a different week for next year, but this show will go on. People enjoyed it,” Jay says. “From the planning to the actual event, it felt good to bring the dairy industry together and know for some it might be the only show they get this year; that makes it all worthwhile.”

“Seeing the happiness on the faces of participants, the joy of getting into the show ring from little bitty kids to senior-citizen showmen, some saying, ‘We still got to go to Madison this year,’ that was satisfying,” Carol relates.

Carter Major

The Dairyland Classic was open to anyone, and early on they had entries and interest from the Midwest before another show planned for New York was moved to Ohio the same week.

As superintendent, Carol throws her passion for youth and agriculture into everything she does. She and her husband, Everett, have long been involved with children and now grandchildren in 4-H, and Carol is instrumental in the family’s 1,700-cow dairy farm and its growth over the years. She serves in many organizations, giving the dairy industry a face and voice.

As co-superintendent of the show, Jay is instrumental on his family’s Moon Dairy, milking 120 Holsteins in a grazing operation. His youth experiences led him to University of Georgia earning a degree in agriculture education, and he splits his time among the home farm, managing the county agricultural center and working in extension as 4-H AmeriCorps Service Member.

Also serving on the show committee were Kimberly Bragg, a Jersey breeder from Millen; and Katelin Benkoski and Katie Williams, both of Madison. In addition to Katie and Katelin doing candid photos, the show committee had cow photographer Frank Robinson on-site to do portraits.  end mark

PHOTO 1: Kevin Lutz of Treasure Chest Jerseys, Lincolntown, North Carolina, judged all five breeds at the Dairyland Classic.

PHOTO 2: Carter Major of Lebanon, Tennessee, with his homebred Holstein Pop-A-Top Rocket 1289. The aged cow was Grand and Supreme Champion and Supreme Bred and Owned, earning the banner and the special commemorative milk can painted by Debbie Cornman of Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, for the inaugural Dairyland Classic, affectionately dubbed “Little Madison” by exhibitors. Photos by Katelin Benkoski.

Sherry Bunting is a freelance writer in eastern Pennsylvania.

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