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Al Deming prepares for World Dairy Expo's 50th anniversary

Al Deming prepares for World Dairy Expo's 50th anniversary
World Dairy Expo will be held Oct. 4-8 in Madison.

World Dairy Expo is coming up fast, and that means Al Deming is working faster.

The chairman of Expo’s board of directors has led the board’s executive committee on two walk-throughs of Madison’s Alliant Energy Center and has another scheduled in preparation for the Oct. 4-8 show.

In between, the general manager of East Central/Select Sires is folding in plans to celebrate the breeding ring’s 75th year and helping guide the Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association and the Youth Council for USA Youth Hockey. He serves on both.

SHOWTIME: More than 2,500 head of dairy cattle from seven breeds will be exhibited at the 50th World Dairy Expo in Madison next week.

It’s an active life for the good-natured, precise-speaking, quick-to-grin dairy leader, now in his 41st year at East Central/Select Sires — 25th as general manager — and his 25th year on the Expo board, of which he’s served as president since March of last year. Come October, he’ll move to the Expo grounds and plan on a workday starting at 6 a.m. and ending around 11 p.m. for the duration of the show.

Ceremonies and celebrations

This is the 50th year for World Dairy Expo, and the plans are for a special observance. The show will kick off with an opening ceremony at 8 p.m. Oct. 4, when “we will unveil a special surprise for the 50th, and that’s all I can tell you at this point,” Deming says with a grin.

World Dairy Expo memorabilia will be displayed in the mezzanine of the New Holland Pavilion 1 throughout the show. A limited-edition book, “We Need a Show,” commemorates Expo’s 50 years and will be on sale, as will several different sizes of a limited-edition commemorative print featuring an Expo scene.

READY FOR EXPO: Al Deming is chairman of the World Dairy Expo board of directors. He displays the 50th anniversary commemorative Expo print that will be on sale at the show.

A 50th Anniversary Open House, hosted by World Dairy Expo, is scheduled for 5 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Alliant Exhibition Hall. All attendees will receive a free gift to commemorate the show’s golden celebration.

“We’re very excited about what we are all planning,” says Deming. Adding to this year’s attractions will be the World Ayrshire Conference. The schedule has been adjusted to highlight the breed. Full information on this year’s show is available at

Deming has been checking in with the 11-member Expo staff — which will swell to well over 500, including volunteers, during the show — on a weekly basis. He makes the trip to Madison at least once a month.

He credits a “great staff” for Expo’s success over the years. “My job is to be sure all of the stakeholders [commercial exhibitors, dairy show and youth program participants, and volunteers] are all represented,” he says. “It’s very easy to do with the staff we have now.”

Strategic plan

Deming is also looking to the future. In July, the World Dairy Expo board began mapping a five-year strategic plan for the show. That effort will intensify after this year’s event.

“So there’s no stopping,” Deming says. “We will be working with a facilitator ... to look out over the future and be prepared for the changes that inevitably will take place.

“One of the challenges is the time,” he acknowledges. “There’s a lot to squeeze in. Commercial exhibitors don’t want it any longer than a five-day show. How do we fit all these wants into a five-day show and justify to the buyers who want to come to do trade?” Plus, there’s a waiting list of commercial exhibitors that want to take advantage of the huge audiences Expo attracts.

“As farms grow [in size], not all of these [farm] operators want to walk through the exhibit halls, so we want to be sure the exhibitors are having their needs met to get together with buyers,” he adds.

A New York state native raised on a registered Holstein farm, Deming graduated from Cornell University and worked for American Breeders Service and Select Sires before joining East Central at Waupun as it merged with Select Sires. He worked in the mating department, then marketing, and became general manager in 1991, the same year he joined the Expo board. He served on the Expo finance committee and was treasurer for three years before being elected board president last year.

Deming is married and the father of two sons. It was their competitiveness in Waupun’s active hockey program that prompted his own interest in youth hockey. Deming says he’ll stay active in the hockey organizations and plans to continue with World Dairy Expo “for a few more years.” But he’ll be saying goodbye to East Central/Select Sires during the coming year.

He’s been with the company for 41 years, and general manager for 25. The 75th annual meeting, with a special celebration planned, will be his farewell of sorts — he plans to be retired before the 2017 meeting. For its 75th year, East Central/Select Sires has a special logo and produced a video of its history.

In all his many involvements, Deming notes, “The people really make it happen. [They] really made our Expo grow and our company grow. It’s also worked.”

Buchholz writes from Fond du Lac.

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