Maybe it’s because everybody loves cheeseburgers. Or maybe it’s the universal appeal of ice cream, grilled cheese sandwiches and butter. But nobody seems to party with consumers better dairy than people.
June was Dairy Month, and more than 800 people turned out to tour MoDak Dairy near Watertown, S.D. Royalwood Dairy near Brandon, S.D., probably had 1,000 people for its annual Breakfast On The Farm. Buses brought people to the farm from Sioux Falls. Northern Lights Dairy, near Mandan, N.D., had another big day for its tour. Dairy Fest in Brookings, S.D., was a good time complete with a carnival for kids and tours of dairies and the South Dakota State University dairy plant. Qual Dairy in Lisbon, N.D., which showed off its new rotary robotic parlor, had two open houses — one for dairy farmers and business owners and operators, and another for the general public.
I attended the 26th annual Cheeseburger Day in Milbank, S.D., this year. Valley Queen Cheese Factory — one of the largest employers in the town of about 3,300 — grilled 2,700 cheeseburgers.
Valley Queen provided all the ingredients for the cheeseburgers as well as cheese sticks, chips and milk for lunch. Valley Queen employees and members of both the Milbank FFA chapter and South Dakota Junior Holstein Association grilled and served the food.
The event was a picnic in the town’s park. People sat at tables and in the grass beneath shade trees and ate lunch while being entertained by local bands Golden Tunes and Out of Montana. I saw one mother and her two girls doing a jig to the music.
The food was free. People were asked to make a donation. The Milbank FFA chapter also sold South Dakota State University ice cream. All of the proceeds went to the Milbank FFA and the South Dakota Junior Holstein Club. About $10,000 is raised each year at Cheeseburger Day.
“This fundraiser wouldn’t be possible without the help of the Valley Queen staff, the volunteers from the South Dakota Junior Holstein and Milbank FFA kids, and the support of our incredible community,” says Karissa Karels, Valley Queen human resources manager.
Valley Queen Cheese Factory is one of the largest milk processors in South Dakota. It’s a family owned business that is in its third generation of owners. The company employs more than 200 people and makes cheese, whey, lactose and anhydrous milk fat products for some of the largest food brands in the world.