World Dairy Expo is a must see, must attend event every year, but even more so this year with the addition of two new, state-of-the-art pavilions that will house the show's 2,500 dairy cattle with capacity to 2,600.
"The new buildings are world class," says Scott Bentley, World Dairy Expo general manager. "They are something we are very proud of."
Bentley believes visitors will be eager to see the newly completed pavilions when they attend the show.
"A lot of people make this the one event they attend every year," he explains. "Our goal is to facilitate that opportunity."
The new pavilions are being built where the old barns used to be. Pavilion 1, which is 90,000 square feet, is located in front of Pavilion 2, which at 200,000 square feet is more than twice as big as Pavilion 1. The pavilions are separated by a 60-foot wide lane.
Mark Clarke, executive director of Alliant Energy Center, says there will be concessions, donated by Centerplate, and bathrooms located in each new pavilion. A shower facility is located on the west end of Pavilion 1 making it easily accessible to both barns. The milking parlor, donated by BouMatic, is located in the east end of Pavilion 2, making it centrally located to both barns. Lighting in the barns is energy efficient. There are also skylights in the pavilions which will provide plenty of natural light.
Both Clarke and Bentley say they have enjoyed watching the daily construction progress, noting that the project has been both challenging as well as rewarding.
Since mid-summer, Bentley says the World Dairy Expo Building Committee has been meeting every two weeks with the contractor to make sure the project stays on schedule and the ultimate goals of the project are achieved.
"The concerns have been very minimal," Bentley says. "Our priorities have always been cow comfort and safety for the animals, the exhibitors and the visitors."
The new pavilions will help keep World Dairy Expo thriving into the future. Last year, World Dairy Expo and the Midwest Horse Fair signed new multi-year contracts. World Dairy Expo's contract will keep Expo at the Alliant Energy Center for 10 years, with a five-year option. The Midwest Horse Fair's contract is for 20 years.
Bentley and his staff are excited about the possibility of record attendance at this year's show.
"It's a very robust dairy economy and we have new facilities and I think that combined with the curiosity about the new pavilions could increase the number of entries we get as well as visitors."
While show organizers believe there is potential for a record-breaking crowd at Expo this year, like any other year the show is weather dependent, Bentley cautions.
"If the weather is too nice, farmers may decide to stay home and chop corn silage or combine beans or take that last cutting of alfalfa," he explains. "If it is raining and cold, more farmers will likely say 'it's a good day to go to Expo.' Even though we have visitors from all over the world, most of the people who come to the show live within 100 miles of Madison."
Follow construction of the New Holland Pavilions at Alliant Energy Center online.