As National Dairy Month comes to end, I have had the chance to attend some fun dairy related events. Last weekend I was able to attend the Heritage Ridge Creamery Grand Opening and Customer Appreciation Day in Midllebury, Indiana, which is a few miles west of Shipshewana. I drove down there Friday with my co-worker, Allison, to help get the shop prepared and tents set up for the event. It was formerly known as Guggisberg Cheese, with an operating cheese plant and shop where customers could purchase a variety of cheeses and treats. MMPA recently bought the plant to have an additional outlet for their milk. If you are familiar with this area of Indiana then you will know that it’s predominantly Amish. And let me tell ya, Amish people are amazing. The store was run by an Amish woman, Elsie, and her staff of mostly Amish women. There were also several plant workers that were Amish as well. It was interesting to learn more about their lifestyle as they were very open about sharing it with me. I am a big fan Mackinaw Island, so it was almost like being there with all the horses and buggies. Although, I could imagine that gets real old real fast for the local “English” folk.
After staying in a hotel for the night, we woke up early around 7 to get there to set up balloons, the bounce house, help with ice cream making, and make finishing touches. One bummer about being there on a Saturday was that I was not able to get paid due to the nature of my internship, although, it was a great experience and well worth it. I was able to eat around 5 pounds of free cheese so that was a big bonus. I also had the opportunity to see how MMPA helps with customer service and brand recognition within its plants. Allison was responsible for planning the whole event which meant she had to order things such as promotional frisbees and additional swag, new Heritage Ridge shopping bags to replace the old Guggisberg ones, and much more. It was rewarding to see her hard work pay off. Overall the event was super fun and Amish people are wonderful.
The next event that I attended was MMPA’s 4-H Milk Marketing Tour. Every summer, Michigan Milk Producers Association collaborates with Michigan State University Extension to host youth affiliated with 4-H or FFA who are interested in the dairy industry. The two-day tour explains the duties and operations of a dairy cooperative, the science behind milk testing, and allows youth to see how milk is processed and then shipped to consumers. The participants also get the chance to listen to several guest speakers who emphasize the many different careers in dairy. This was a fun event for the “young adults” ranging in grades from freshman in high school to seniors in high school. They asked me about what it was like pursuing a career within the industry not directly related to the farm, I was able to give them advice about what I’ve learned so far and remind them that the dairy industry does not stop at the dairy farm.
Don’t forget, July is National Ice Cream Month! Make sure to celebrate by stopping into your local ice cream shop and ordering one of everything!