Preparing for big cows, big bucks at Dairy Expo

World Dairy Expo begins Tuesday, Oct. 2
Preparing for big cows, big bucks at Dairy Expo

The World Dairy Expo is coming to Madison, and set-up for the event is in full swing.

General manager Mike Clarke has been pacing around the floor of the Alliant Energy Center while making preparations.

The floor is now covered with orange and purple wood shavings, making it bouncy for the hundreds of volunteers, and soon, for the show cows.

The front of the floor is adorned with a 20-foot milk carton, a huge cornucopia, corn stalks, and a massive wheel of cheese measuring eight feet in diameter.

“This is literally the Super Bowl of the dairy industry,” Clarke said.

Clarke estimated the Wisconsin dairy industry is worth $26.5 billion, making Madison the best spot to host the event for the past 46 years.


About 70,000 people will attend the expo from 90 different countries. And that figure doesn’t count the 2,500 to 2,600 heads of cattle on site.

A study conducted by the expo said the international crowds bring about $50 million to the state.

“We create a lot of money for the city of Madison, Dane County, and even statewide throughout the five days our event happens,” Clarke explained, “so it’s something we’re really proud of.”

Businesses around the venue certainly see the impact. The Sheraton Hotel on John Nolen Drive has been booked for a year for the event.

“This is the biggest week of the year for us,” hotel director Brian Johnson said.

Johnson set up a world map in the lobby so that guests can mark with a pin where they’re from. He said his staff will put in some solid overtime hours this week, but it’s all well worth it.

“The exposure for the city is just so fantastic with people coming in from all over the world,” Johnson said. “It’d be a shame not to have it here.”

At the Coliseum Bar, the easy access from the World Dairy Expo has landed the event a spot on their menu. A burger named after the dairy-driven week is topped with five different cheeses, comes with a side of cheese curds, and is served with a tall glass of cold milk.

“There’s no substitutions on that because, well, how do you add more cheese to that? There isn’t more cheese to add,” the restaurant’s banquet manager Sam Wuenschel said.

Wuenschel said he’s already seen more customer traffic since expo participants have started to trickle in. He said there is no better place to host the event.

“Where else could you have a World Dairy Expo but Wisconsin?” Wuenschel asked.

“It just makes sense that the Dairy Expo would be in America’s Dairyland,” Clarke added.

The World Dairy Expo begins Tuesday, Oct. 2, and runs through Saturday, Oct. 6.

For more information, go here.