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Dairy promoters get creative with Crafty Cow Contest

Kimmi Devaney for Progressive Dairyman Published on 24 May 2018
The Crafty Cow Contest

There is no better time than National Dairy Month to celebrate and promote the dairy industry, and dairy groups are finding creative and festive ways to reach consumers in person and online.

Dairy breakfasts and other on-farm events dot the countryside during weekends in June, creating a fun family outing and allowing the public a firsthand look at modern dairy farming.



The Rock County Dairy Promotion Council in Wisconsin took their annual June Dairy Month breakfast a step further in 2013 when they added the Crafty Cow Contest to the list of their breakfast activities. This contest allows artists of all ages to showcase their talent by decorating plywood cow cutouts, and guests get involved by voting on their favorite.

Crafty Cow contest

“We love the buzz it creates,” says Sandy Larson, a member of the Rock County Dairy Promotion Council. “The cows are displayed at the breakfast, and afterward the artists get to keep their cow, and we hope they will also display it during June Dairy Month.”

Crafty Cow contest

The Crafty Cow Contest began as a brainstorm idea from a monthly promotion council meeting as a way to draw attention and attract more people to the breakfast. Now in its 42nd year, the breakfast features farm tours, kids’ games, dairy recipes, crafts, a petting zoo, prizes and music from local bands. Scholarship winners and the host farm family are also recognized.


The contest is promoted on their Facebook page and through press releases to local papers in the county. Additionally, they partner with radio stations and display 150 posters throughout the community, including three large signs in the field near high-traffic areas.

Other local dairy groups loved their idea and started similar contests.

Crafty Cow Contest

“The contest adds so much to the farm and the breakfast, and it’s colorful and fun,” Larson says. “We’ve learned from each other [the other counties]. For example, we started charging an entry fee after another county did, which covers the cost of the plywood for the cows.”

Approximately 5,000 people visit the farm throughout the duration of the event from 6:30 until 11 a.m. A different dairy farm hosts the breakfast each year and, as the event moves around the county, it attracts different people and families.

“Most of the entries are from consumers and the local community,” Sandy Larson says.


Crafty Cow Contest

To enter, businesses and individuals complete the entry form and contact Rock County Dairy Promotion Council through their Facebook page. The entry fee is $25 for individuals and $50 for businesses. The plywood cow cutouts are distributed to participants to decorate uniquely and then are returned to the farm prior to the breakfast for display.

The contest is limited to 25 entries, and most of those come from locals near the host farm, including schools, day-cares and businesses.

“People are very excited when they pick up their plywood cow,” Larson says. “We started the contest five years ago and have new participants each year.”

Crafty Cow contest

There are prizes, but that is not the reason most people enter.

“People just really love the idea and want to have fun with it,” Larson says. “Businesses are also getting involved, and they display their cow after the contest.”

While the breakfast offers a terrific opportunity for consumer education, it also brings the dairy community together. Many local dairy farmers serve as volunteers to keep the event running smoothly.

“The June Dairy Month breakfast is a great way to stay connected with other dairy farmers and to work together,” Larson says. “It’s very rewarding, and many of the farmers have volunteered for years and just know what to do.”

Crafty Cow Contest

The interaction with the community and the opportunity to teach others about dairy farming are highlights for Larson.

“People who attend the breakfast are learning and making the connection that this is a family farm and these are cows,” Larson says. “It may be the first visit to a dairy farm for some people. I especially love watching the kids’ eyes light up as they learn about dairy farming.”

This year’s breakfast and accompanying contest will be hosted by Den-Bar Dairy on June 9 in Janesville, Wisconsin.  end mark

PHOTOS: The Crafty Cow Contest adds another element of fun for the annual Rock County farm breakfast, and it allows local businesses and community groups to showcase their artistic talent. All photos provided by Sandy Larson.

Kimmi Devaney is a freelance writer and the agricultural marketing and industry development manager with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.

Kimmi Devaney
  • Kimmi Devaney

  • Agricultural Marketing and Industry Development Manager
  • Indiana State Department of Agriculture