Whether you want to take in one of eight dairy shows, check out several of the 850 commercial exhibits, attend a seminar or meet up with friends, World Dairy Expo has become the place do and see it all, says Scott Bentley, Expo's new general manager.
"We've become the meeting place for the dairy industry," Bentley notes.
Bentley notes that cattle numbers have risen dramatically during the past several years from 1,700 in 2000 to more than 2,500 today.
An enormous amount of work is done behind the scenes in preparation for the show set Oct. 1-5 in Madison. Bentley says he is in awe of the work the staff puts in to pull off a show like this.
"We have 10 people on staff and they're all incredible," he says. "I feel blessed to be working with them. Their level of professionalism is outstanding. You can't imagine the amount of detail that goes into planning a show like this. The team really works well together."
Bentley is also grateful to the volunteers who give their time each year to make Expo the top-notch show that it has become.
"Without dedicated volunteers there wouldn't be an Expo," he says.
Bentley replaced Mark Clarke, former Expo general manager, in June. Clarke left Expo last November after being named executive director of Dane County's Alliant Energy Center in Madison where World Dairy Expo is held.
Previously, Bentley was the global supply manager at ABS Global in DeForest and held positions as global dairy product manager, district sales manager and in dairy sire acquisition during his nearly 20-year career at ABS. He was also a field service manager at American Jersey Cattle Association.
A native of Ames, Iowa, Bentley grew up on a registered Guernsey farm and was active in 4-H and FFA.
While a student at Iowa State University, Bentley was a member of the Iowa State Dairy Judging Team. In 1983, the team placed second at World Dairy Expo and Bentley was the top placing individual in the collegiate contest.
"That was a real highlight in my life," Bentley admits.
Bentley earned his bachelor's degree in dairy science from Iowa State and received a master's in business administration at Purdue University.
Originally, plans called for all of the barns at Alliant Energy Center to be demolished following World Dairy Expo in October and construction to begin on two new barns to replace the 11 old barns. But concerns about completing the building project during the winter months in time for the 2014 Midwest Horse Show in April pushed construction back six months. According to Bentley, the old barns will be demolished in April after the Midwest Horse Show and construction will begin immediately after that. The new barns will hold up to 2,600 dairy cattle and will be built where the old barns currently stand.
"The plan is to have the two new barns completed in time for the 2014 World Dairy Expo," Bentley says.
The estimated cost of the project is $18 million.
"We're very optimistic," Bentley says. "This project has a combination of private funding, funding from Dane County and state funding, which is exceptional."