Celebrate 50 Years with World Dairy Expo

Wisconsin State Farmer
Allen Hetts of Crescent Beauty Farm, Fort Atkinson, exhibited the Grand Champion Holstein cow at the first show in 1967. More than any other person, Hetts is credited with conceiving the idea of a new major cattle show and having it located in Madison, WI. Here he is joined Cheryl Johnson who was selected as Cinderella of the World at the show.


2016 marks the 50th anniversary of World Dairy Expo – a celebration of the journey from a small World Food Expo in 1967, to the internationally renowned show of today. This year’s Expo will take a look back at 50 years of history and the people whose passion and dedication helped build the show from the ground up.

In celebration of this exciting milestone, a special 50th Anniversary Open House, Hosted by World Dairy Expo, will be held Wednesday, Oct. 5, beginning at 5 p.m. in the Alliant Energy Center’s Exhibition Hall. This free event will provide Expo stakeholders a chance to gather and exchange memories, while enjoying a night of food, fun and entertainment.

Exhibitors move their cattle around the show ring inside the Arena Building in Oct. 1969.

“The Open House is designed for anyone connected to World Dairy Expo, whether a cattle or commercial exhibitor, attendee or volunteer, judge or judging team member,” said Joan Lau, World Dairy Expo Board of Directors and 50th Anniversary Committee member. “Anyone who loves Expo is welcome to attend. It will be a fun evening to reminisce, share stories and celebrate the show’s rich history. It’s Expo’s way of saying thanks for 50 great years!”

Elements from past years will also be featured throughout the grounds during the show. Expo-goers will have the chance to walk down memory lane with the 50th Anniversary Historical Display, located on the mezzanine level of New Holland Pavilion 1.

Today cattle are housed in the New Holland pavilions. In the early days of the show, cattle were housed in various barns and a row of brown tents.

“The Historical Display will provide a glimpse into the past through photos and memorabilia collected over five decades,” said Debbie Crave, World Dairy Expo Board of Directors and 50th Anniversary Committee member. “Seeing how the show was built, past events and endless memories will add a unique touch to this year’s celebration.”

Special 50th anniversary events will take place throughout the week, starting with an official kick-off to the show during Tuesday morning’s Opening Ceremony, and continuing through the selection of Supreme Champion on Saturday evening.

Special Events

Expo invites all attendees and exhibitors to join in these special celebrations that honor the past five decades.

WDE kicks off with an Opening Ceremony on Tuesday, October 4, at 8 a.m. outside the northeast end of New Holland Pavilion 1. This ceremony symbolizes the start of the 50th World Dairy Expo; audience members will witness the unveiling of a special 50th Anniversary surprise.

Brightly lit and well ventilated, the New Holland Pavilions created a global standard for housing livestock at exhibitions. They're healthier for animals, comfortable for exhibitors, and inviting for visitors.

The celebration continues on Wednesday, October 5 for the 50th Anniversary Open House, Hosted by World Dairy Expo from 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. in the Exhibition Hall. Each guest will also receive a special, World Dairy Expo 50th Anniversary commemorative gift.

On Friday, October 7, Expo attendees are invited to Expo in the Evening from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. in the Estrumate Sale Pavilion. This evening will feature live music by Madison-based band, Wheelhouse, drinks and appetizers.

WDE welcomes attendees to enjoy its daily features as well. Dairy Happy Hours will take place each day at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the CLARIFIDE Plus Attendee Lounge. These hours are free to the public and will offer treats compliments of Triolet, and a limited edition 50th Anniversary giveaway.

Steve Hendress of Wolcott, IN, reacts to his Brown Swiss Hoosier Knoll Jade Monay being named the 1994 Supreme Champion.

Expo lovers are encouraged to talk a walk down memory lane in the World Dairy Expo Historical Display, in the Mezzanine level of Pavilion 1. The exhibit is open daily from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. and features photos, memorabilia and a special video.

The week concludes with the Closing Ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 5 p.m. This ceremony is highlighted with the Parade of Champions and selection of Expo’s 2016 Supreme Champion, making it the perfect way to cap off the historical week.

Countless international attendees learned a lot about the U.S. dairy industry through groups such as World Wide Sires adn the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Professor of Dairy Science David Wickert (background) hosted many delegations.

Recognized as the meeting place for the global dairy industry, World Dairy Expo attracts more than 70,000 attendees from over 90 countries to Madison, Wisconsin, each year. The annual event will take place Oct. 4-8, 2016, with the theme of “Celebrate 50!” to commemorate its golden anniversary. Visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@WDExpo or #Celebrate50) for more information.