Have you ever had one of those days where you’re walking through a huge crowd and pass a cow draped in roses and so you step out of the way and your path is blocked by a young man proposing marriage to his radiant sweetheart? Chances are you were at World Dairy Expo and taking part in five days of high pitched dairy excitement.  Every fall Madison Wisconsin welcomes the world to enjoy dairy. Cows, equipment, seminars, dairy shows and cows, cows and more cows. Expo caters to everyone’s dairy desires. But not everyone ends up fulfilling their dairy dreams. Perhaps because they are unsure how to brave such a massive event. For those of you who are finally ready to take the plunge we have your ultimate guide to surviving World Dairy Expo.


World Dairy Expo spans six glorious days. Once you have decided to spend all or part of that time completely surrounded by everything dairy that you love, it will pay to make sure that your adventure gets off to a good start … just like thousands of experienced Expo-Goers are doing.

Coming In From Outside the USA? Register in Advance

For any non-USA visitors to Expo, this is absolutely the best advice that I can give you.  The lineups start early and – although staff is extremely pleasant and efficient – you will appreciate being able to speed through this step.  Here’s the advice they give: “Simply complete the form on the website and print the confirmation email (Click here).  When you arrive at International Registration, located in the East Lobby of the Coliseum, present the confirmation.  You will then receive an official pin and ribbon, which grants access to the International Lounge all week and the International Party on Friday night.  At registration, you will also receive a souvenir tote bag with the special The International Visitor publication inside.”

NOTE:  If you’re only going for 1 day, then choose which day carefully. Thoroughly check out the show guide to make sure you see the dairy animals you’re looking for. Seats at the dairy shows fill up quickly and some have been warmed by the same spectators for generations.  Getting to the dairy ring a couple of hours in advance isn’t enough to guarantee you a ringside seats. Sitting at ringside for a few minutes and then heading off for another event, doesn’t qualify as good planning.  If you’re a “newbie”, don’t destroy your welcome by being rude or upsetting the traditions.  If you’re a veteran, sending one person to save twenty seats doesn’t send a positive message either.  Find a happy medium between organized and greedy! 

Pack the Right Supplies

You don’t plan a trip without packing and since properly seeing all of World Dairy Expo qualifies as a “trip”, it’s important to be prepared.

  • Take a portable charger for your phone or camera.  It can be very easy to run out of battery power, if you’re taking lots of pictures or videos.
  • A lot of booths, and the International Registration, give out shopping bags or tote bags.  That is very helpful as you gather loot but, as I tell my husband, there is an awful lot that ‘absolutely wants to go home with us!’ In that case your hands may fill up quickly, restricting you’re picture taking ability as well as cutting down on hand-shaking, simultaneously with enjoying refreshments.  Your best option might be a backpack.  It also reduces the chances of setting something down and forgetting it.

Cows, Manners and Celebrity

You’re going to see a lot of cows and dairy industry leaders. But always keep in mind that they are there for a purpose! That purpose is The Dairy Expo competition. They have spent a year at least focused on getting their animals ready to compete as the best in their age group. Make sure you don’t do anything to hinder that flow to the winners circle. Dairy Expo is the time for cows to shine!  Here are ground rules everyone should know.

  • If you want to take a picture of a specific cow, be polite, you are not the paparazzi. If they are in a rush and say no to posing for you or having you too close to their setup, just remember they are the reason World Dairy Expo exists. Sometimes they can’t stop for a pic because they are on a tight time schedule. If you want a picture with them then do ask if they are okay with that. Again some might say no, and that’s life.

Plan Ahead!

If you want to make the most of World Dairy Expo you must PLAN AHEAD!  It can’t be said too often.  There are resources on the World Dairy Expo website (LINK) to help you plan your day once you arrive in Madison. Planners have provided the following:

  • Interactive maps show where each of the over 850 companies are located and provide contact information along with links to social media accounts like Facebook and YouTube. You can add companies of interest into a “must see” list to utilize while at the show. New this year, is Innovation Unveiled, a new, online product showcase that features a Pinterest-style layout. Search the latest products that will debut at this year’s show. View Innovation Unveiled here.
  • Also available this year is an animal location search. Like the interactive maps for the trade show, there will be interactive maps for the New Holland Pavilions with stalling locations. Just simply enter the name of an animal, exhibitor or town to see which Pavilion, section and row they are housed. There will be kiosks in the Pavilions for your use.”

With so much to see and do in several buildings, barns and display areas, there will be times when the weather could decide to be a partner in your enjoyment of World Dairy Expo.  Once again preparation ahead of time will pay off!

Dress for the Weather

First and foremost make sure you have comfortable footwear.  There are miles of aisles.  Make sure that your feet don’t give out before you’ve seen everything.

  • Dress in layers.  You may need a jacket in the morning but will find it too warm in the afternoon.  Be prepared for rain and nothing will put a damper on your day.
  • Repeat:  Hats, gloves and umbrellas can make the difference!  Bring them!
  • Expo has posted this forecast “sun and overcast conditions during expo with temperatures of 60 (15 C) degrees Fahrenheit to 50 (10C) degrees Fahrenheit.”

Food and Refreshments

There are lots of choices for food on the Expo grounds.  You will quickly find your dairy favorites.  However, once again consider that there will be thousands of people with the same food needs as yours.  Eat a good breakfast before arriving in the morning and plan ahead to either miss the “peak” times or to go off site (sometimes a long distance off site) to enjoy a meal in one of the many excellent restaurant options to be found in and around Madison (Read more: visitmadison.com/WDE14 for more entertainment ideas).

If you do plan to leave the Expo Grounds or the Coliseum during peak times you may find that parking and seating could reach capacity while you’re gone and you may be held up from finding a parking space or seating space when you return.

Rest UP

Get plenty of sleep after each day.  If you’re exhausted, it’s hard to fully enjoy what is going on.  Staying healthy and well-rested can help you avoid getting “Expo Flu” when you return home.  It happens when you spend so much time in large crowds.

Virtual Farm Tours

Seeing is understanding and seeing how real dairy operations incorporate the newest science and technology and management is invaluable.  Here is what you can get this experience without even leaving the Expo grounds. “Virtual Farms Tours give World Dairy Expo attendees the opportunity to experience a wide variety of farms, topics and management styles, all from the comfort of a chair. This year’s operations excel in areas of water conservation, genetics, robotics and more. The tours are led by dairy owners and managers, with a half-hour pictorial overview of their operation, general information and highlights of exceptional management practices. After each session there is time for questions and discussion. The tours are presented daily, Tuesday, Sept. 30 through Saturday, Oct. 4 in the Mendota 1 meeting room in the Exhibition Hall. The presentations will also be posted on World Dairy Expo’s website after the show. Sponsors of the 2014 Virtual Farm Tours are AgStar Financial Services, American Jersey Cattle Association, DuPont Pioneer, Kansas Department of Agriculture, Lely, Livestock Water Recycling Inc., Quality Liquid Feeds Inc. and Zoetis.” Check out the World Dairy Expo website for descriptions of each tour.

Here is a final note that the organizers include regarding farm tours and which we at The Bullvine heartily endorse.” Wisconsin is home to numerous companies and some of the finest dairy operations in the world.  If you are making the trip, be sure to stay a few extra days and tour our great state!!

The Bullvine Bottom Line

There is so much to see and do at World Dairy Expo that we hope our insights and suggestions have been helpful. Have a great time and enjoy your Dairy Expo experience.  Hoping to see you there! To share some time together would be awesome!!




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