Dodge Co. Dairy Brunch hosts support mission of dairy promotion, education

Gloria Hafemeister
Mark and Stephanie Kuhlman are this year's hosts of the Dodge County Dairy Brunch which will be held at their Horicon dairy farm on June 5, from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  The annual event features food, education and entertainment, and is the only fund-raiser for the active Dairy Promotion Committee.

HORICON – Second generation farmers, Mark and Stephanie Kuhlman, will open the farm gates of their Horicon farm as hosts of the 2022 Dodge County Dairy Brunch on June 5.

The owners of Kuhlman Farms milk 100 cows and raise crops on 800 acres of land on Neda Road just south of Highway 33 and just east of County TW near Horicon.

Mark’s sister Sandy helps with the feeding of the calves each day while his sister Linda and Stephanie’s sons Cody and Merrick also help out with the calves and other chores.  Stephanie’s dad, Roger Frei, enjoys driving tractor for field work. In addition to family, Ron Billings works full time on the farm.

Morgan Billings, Neil Luebke, Melanie Millikin, Lexi Voigt and Bella Kraus all help out as part-time milkers. The Kuhlman’s cows enjoy comfort in sand-bedded freestalls and are milked in a double 8 parallel parlor. 

The Kuhlman family is no stranger to the Dairy Promotion Committee. Mark remembers going to the early dairy breakfasts hosted by the Dodge County Dairy Promotion where his parents were very active and his dad served as president.

He says dairy promotion is something his parents always believed in.

Roy and Thirza Kuhlman purchased their Horicon farm in December of 1965. Mark says his parents had been renting another farm for a few years but when this farm became available they grabbed at the opportunity to purchase it. The family moved during the Christmas holidays in the cold of winter, with his mom was expecting a baby at the time.  Still, they were enthusiastic about farming on their own.

During the years all five kids (Sandy, Laura, Linda, Mark and Amy) helped out on the farm. In 2009, Mark purchased the farm from his parents.

He recalls that his parents were involved with the dairy promotion committee since it started in the late 1970’s. Over the years, both Roy and Thirza held various office positions and Mark’s sister, Sandy, is still involved as the committee’s current treasurer.

Kuhlman Farms of Horicon will be the hosting  the 2022 Dodge County Dairy Brunch on June 5.

Breakfast for business leaders

When the committee was first launched, members held a business leaders’ breakfast on a farm to highlight the importance of the dairy industry to the county.  In 1980 they decided to invite the public to a dairy farm for the brunch.

The committee took a break from having the breakfast the following year in order to concentrate its efforts on hosting the Alice in Dairyland finals in Dodge County.  The brunch continued in 1982 and has been held every year since with the exception of the year events were cancelled due to COVID.

In the earlier years, the dairy promotion committee also hosted the annual Dairy Princess contest at the Beaver Dam Mall.  Along with that event they sponsored a dairy recipe contest for youth in the county.

As a believer in dairy promotion, Mark’s parents were supportive of the forming of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (now known as Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin )  and the National Dairy Board in 1983, both funded with check-off funds from dairy producers’ milk checks and they were very active in promoting dairy locally as well.

The couple firmly believed two things are a must if dairy farmers hope to continue the business into the future: education and promotion.

As for the education part, Roy Kuhlman served on the Horicon School Board, working to keep agriculture programs and FFA alive.  Both he and his wife, Thirza, grew up on farms and graduated from Juneau High School. Roy also served as Wisconsin FFA Vice President in 1960-61. The Kuhlmans remained active throughout their lives in the FFA Alumni Association.

As for dairy promotion, Thirza eagerly promoted new dairy products as they became available by visiting area grocery stores to hand out samples and recipes and encourage shoppers to include more dairy in their diets.

In later years the dairy promotion committee hired dairy ambassador Brenda Conley to promote dairy throughout the county including educational presentations as well as fun programs in schools throughout the county and conducting special dairy programs at libraries during the summer. Conley recently finished up 19 fourth grade promotions, serving over 500 students at 15 different schools.

The dairy promotion committee also sponsors agricultural scholarships for high school seniors, maintains a Facebook page to promote dairy, shares dairy recipes and area dairy news and is involved with any activities that provide an opportunity to promote dairy.

Current officers are Russell Kottke, president, Lee Miller, vice president, Sandy Kuhlman, treasurer, and Stephanie Jens, secretary.

On the farm

The 42nd annual Dodge County Dairy Brunch begins at 9 a.m. and will run through 12:30 p.m.  Guests visiting Kuhlman Farm will have plenty to do besides eating a hearty breakfast including a chance to get up close with the cows inside the dairy barn and viewing the Kuhlman's fleet of farm machinery.

Tractor enthusiasts will be treated to a collection of antique tractors courtesy of local tractor enthusiasts. A display of farm toys from the past 60 years will also be on hand. 

The Dodge County Antique Power Club will bring their “people mover” wagon to transport visitors around the farm. Young visitors will also delight in taking a ride in the club's barrel train.

The Horicon FFA will provide a variety of farm animals for children to see and pet. Music will be provided by Carol and the Keynotes.

Breakfast will be served inside the large machine shed on the farm with ice cream available to guests inside the farm’s large shop area. The menu includes scrambled eggs, ham and cheese, pancakes, deep fried cheese curds and assortment of other cheeses, milk, juice and ice cream.

Off-site parking and a bus will be available at nearby Horicon High School.

To learn more about the brunch and dairy promotion activities, visit the Dodge County Dairy Promotion's Facebook page. The group is still in need for volunteers. The signup link is on their  Facebook page.