World Dairy Expo cancelled first time in 53-year history

Wisconsin State Farmer
For the first time in its 53-year history, World Dairy Expo® has been cancelled.

Since its inception in 1967, the gathering of the world's finest cattle has been held in Madison, Wis. Amidst the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, for the first time in its 53-year history, World Dairy Expo® has been cancelled.

The World Dairy Expo Executive Committee reached this difficult decision based on the public health orders and restrictions related to COVID-19, in place and issued by Public Health Madison & Dane County.

World Dairy Expo 2020 was set to take place at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin, September 29 through October 3, 2020. The annual event welcomed more than 62,000 attendees from nearly 100 countries in 2019.

“Our collective heart is heavy as we share with you that World Dairy Expo 2020 has been cancelled,” said Scott Bentley, WDE General Manager. “We know how much this hurts; we feel it, too. Please know other options were explored and considered by the World Dairy Expo Executive Committee and staff.”

The Alliant Energy Center, home to World Dairy Expo, is a county-owned facility that falls under the jurisdiction of Emergency Order #3 and Forward Dane, the phased reopening plan for Dane County. Public health officials predict Dane County may be in the third phase of the plan when World Dairy Expo is set to occur. This phase includes a limit of 250 people at outdoor events, eliminating any possibility that World Dairy Expo, as people know it today, can take place.

The Dane County Fair, which is also held on the site, was cancelled last month.

According to WDE officials, the Alliant Energy Center and Madison have been Expo’s home for 53 years, and with this rich history comes critical infrastructure for a show of Expo’s size and scope. 

"Beyond the physical footprint of the campus, World Dairy Expo relies on dedicated and trained volunteers, a paid labor force and established event partners," officials said.

Scott Bentley

“Unwaveringly, we recognize our responsibility is to maintain the health of our community and the safety of all of you as exhibitors, attendees and volunteers and to adhere to the orders dictated by Dane County and the national guidelines from the CDC as they relate to COVID-19,” added Bentley.

More information, a complete statement from World Dairy Expo, and answers to frequently asked questions regarding the decision to cancel World Dairy Expo 2020 can be found at

While many cancelled events have been replaced by a virtual show, World Dairy Expo organizers say Expo is more than the events that take place during the show.

"There is networking, camaraderie and a sense of coming home for so many, that unfortunately can’t be recreated over a computer screen or mobile device," WDE officials wrote.

Crowds of more than 62,000 people, from nearly 100 countries, are expected to return to Madison next year for the 54th event, September 28 through October 2, 2021.

Serving as the meeting place of the global dairy industry, World Dairy Expo brings together the latest in dairy innovation and the best cattle in North America. Crowds of more than 62,000 people, from nearly 100 countries, will return to Madison, Wis. for the 54th event, September 28 through October 2, 2021, when the world’s largest dairy-focused trade show, dairy and forage seminars, a world-class dairy cattle show and more will be on display.