October 11 — Hildebrand Dairy Farms held their annual Harvest Festival on Saturday.
Dairy operations manager Melissa Reed said she believed the event was “in step with previous years’ attendance,” perhaps a little below the usual 4,000 to 6,000 people.
“We are very happy with the way it went today,” she said.
The event is an annual open house for families that gives kids a little taste of country life while educating people of all ages about the dairy and what it does.
There was a corn pit for the kids to play, a hay area where kids could run on hay bales and play in straw piles, hay rides, a bouncy house, arts and crafts. children’s crafts, live music, a chance to interact with and see the animals, a free donation picnic to benefit a Geary County church, and tours of dairy facilities, among others.
“For us, it’s kind of like our thank you to the community,” Reed said. “We want to be free as much as possible. It’s not usually a profitable event. It’s more of a chance for us to say thank you and a chance for us to really give the kids a chance to experience the farm. I think that so many kids or even parents are so far away from the farm and it just gives them a day here to connect with some of those roots. “
It was a fun day for the families, but also a chance to learn something new.
Reed said employees shared the dairy’s story and showed people the process it uses to make its products.
“On tours we definitely show off the girls,” she said, referring to the herd of dairy cows. “It’s huge for us. And of course we’re a dairy that sells our milk directly to consumers, but in doing so, we have a really good idea of where the consumer is at. And more than ever, I think there may be a lack of understanding of the process, of how milk is produced and made – and the good thing about our farm is that we do everything here in one place. “
Shepherd Josh Lynn, who manages the Hildebrands dairy herd, said it was a good opportunity for children who grew up in more urban environments to explore the farm and learn more about where their food.
He said he felt “there is a huge gap” between the people and the agricultural producers who grow their food. Events such as the Harvest Festival can help close this gap.
“As times change it’s really important to get kids out there and get them interested in farming,” Lynn said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to go out and do it and see all aspects of it.”