Mike Holschbach says he was honored and humbled last May to be elected by the World Dairy Expo board of directors to succeed Roger Ripley as president.
"I don't serve on any other boards," Holschbach notes. "Expo is my passion. That's where I put my extra time. That, the farm and my family take all of my time and then some."
Holschbach, 49, was elected to the board of directors in 1997. There are 40 members on the board of directors.
"It's a very large board," he says.
Holschbach says he is impressed with the work all the volunteers do at expo.
"None of the volunteers are paid in any way from the board on down. That's amazing when you consider many of the board members have to fly in – that's all on their dime. They are there at their own expense because they believe in the show."
He says the board meets three times a year.
"We meet in March, have a summer meeting and a December meeting," he explains.
The executive board, which includes the president, vice president, secretary and commercial exhibits chairman and chairman of the dairy show and two other elected members meet six to eight times a year, including during expo.
Holschbach grew up on Lakeside Farm near Elkhart Lake in Sheboygan County. His father Fritz managed the farm. He graduated from UW-Madison in 1981 with a degree in dairy science and married his college sweetheart Valerie Heggna that same year. Holschbach worked for Al Piper in Lake Mills for 18 months before moving to his wife's home farm, Heatherstone Enterprises, located south of Baraboo. The young couple milked 60 registered Holsteins with her parents, Duane and Carol, until 1991 when they bought the farm.
Today, the Holschbachs milk 120 registered Holsteins and farm 320 acres. Their son Chase, 22, works full-time on the farm and is in charge of fieldwork. They have 21 cows in their herd scored Excellent, 63 Very Good. They also have two daughters, Brienne Carlson, 25, who is married and works as an elementary school teacher in Madison, and daughter Chelsea, 20, who is a sophomore at UW-Madison majoring in dairy science.
In August, Holschbach flew to Argentina to judge a cow show in Monterras, Argentina.
"I limit myself to the number of judging events I do in the year," he explains. "In the past, I've judged almost all of the district shows and several county fairs, but now I pick and choose what I do because it's so hard for me to get away."
In June, he and his family took on the daunting task of hosting the National Holstein Convention Sale at the farm Heatherstone Enterprises located south of Baraboo.
The event was attended by 2,000 people. The sale grossed $1,100,000 on 86 lots and averaged $12,800.
"It turned out how we planned it and that was a good thing," he says. "The weather cooperated and it was a great event."
Holschbach says he is looking forward to the "best expo ever."
"I'm excited and really looking forward to expo," he says. "Things are moving along well. I want expo to be successful. I hope we have cooperative weather. But the weather doesn't have the kind of effect on attendance that it used to have. Sometimes it's better to have some rain so farmers don't feel they have to stay home and do fieldwork."