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Farmers, Culver’s celebrate National Dairy Month with milking contest

Dairy farmers and Culver’s in Baxter celebrated National Dairy Month with a cow-milking contest at Culver’s featuring Princess Kay of the Milky Way. The June 16 event was sponsored by the Crow Wing County Dairy Association, Culver’s, Crow Wing County Farm Bureau and the Brainerd FFA.

A girl milks a cow.
Clare Caughey competes in a cow-milking contest for Culver's Dairy Days on Thursday, June 16, 2022, at the Culver's in Baxter.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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BAXTER — Star was the main attraction Thursday, June 16, at Culver’s in Baxter. But the Holstein cow seemed oblivious to the attention she was receiving during a milking contest in the parking lot of the fast-food restaurant.

June is National Dairy Month, and the event was sponsored by the Crow Wing County Dairy Association, the Crow Wing County Farm Bureau and the Brainerd FFA.

“It’s just a way to recognize the dairy farmers,” said Rosanne Caughey, president of the Crow Wing County Dairy Association, at Culver’s Dairy Days before the start of the contest.

Under sunny skies, people flocked to the blue-and-while tent outside despite strong winds that threatened to upend the event.

“My wife grew up on a farm, and the only advice she gave me was don’t get kicked,” said Tim Speier, a Brainerd Dispatch reporter in the cow-milking contest. “I just hope she don’t run dry.”

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Cornerstone Dairy provided the dairy cow, and contestants were given 10 seconds to practice milking and then 30 seconds to milk as much as possible for a chance at a Culver’s trophy.

“We had one in 2019 and then we took a couple of years off because of COVID, but now we’re back again in 2022,” Caughey said.

The Culver’s parking lot was filled to capacity by people wishing to participate not only in the milking contest but the other events celebrating all things dairy.

Josiah Sechser throws a hay bale.
Josiah Sechser heaves a bale of hay as far as he can during a hay bale tossing contest at Culver's Dairy Days on Thursday, June 16, 2022, at the Culver's in Baxter.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

“I think people take milk for granted,” Caughey said before the Brainerd FFA’s straw bale toss and Culver’s frozen custard-eating contest. “Milk provides nine essential vitamins you need.”

Rosanne Caughey
Rosanne Caughey
Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

State Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, was one of the participants in the cow-milking contest.

“I’ve been participating for years,” Ruud said with a chuckle. “And I love it when you put it in the paper that I’m an ‘udder’ failure because I’m not very good at this, but I love to do it.”

Scoopie the Culver's mascot and Princess Kay of the Milky Way Anna Euerle
Scoopie the Culver's Mascot and Princess Kay of the Milky Way Anna Euerle stop to have their photo taken together during Culver's Dairy Days at the Culver's in Baxter on Thursday, June 16, 2022.
Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

Anna Euerle was crowned the 68th Princess Kay of the Milky Way in August, and she was on hand at Culver’s Dairy Days in Baxter to give contestants some cow-milking pointers.

“I think it’s really special to be in an area that maybe doesn’t get to see this quite as much as I would on my farm at home,” said Euerle, a college student from Litchfield who serves as the official goodwill ambassador for almost 2,500 Minnesota dairy farm families.

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Euerle sat for eight hours in a rotating cooler at last year’s Minnesota State Fair while her likeness was sculpted from 90 pounds of butter.

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“I do still have my butterhead. She has her very own freezer and she's gonna hang out in there for a couple more years,” Euerle told the crowd about the Princess Kay of the Milky Way tradition.

Dan Caughey of Cornerstone Dairy is Rosanne Caughey’s son. He gave some opening remarks to the crowd about Star, the 5-year-old Holstein, before the cow-milking contest began.

“We milk about 90 cows … twice a day at 4 o’clock in the morning and 4 o’clock in the evening,” Dan Caughey said of Cornerstone Dairy, which is about 10 miles south of Brainerd. “Each cow will give about 10 gallons of milk a day, so about 5 gallons in the morning, 5 gallons at night.”

Dan Caughey said the rest of the day his family farms about 500 acres, where they also plant alfalfa, oats, rye and corn to feed their dairy cows.

“The cows eat the feed and turn it into milk,” Dan Caughey said. “We take the milk from the cow or harvest the milk from the cow, cool it in a big tank and then every three days a big milk truck will come and pick up our milk.”

Culver's cow-milking contest trophy
The winner of the Culver's Dairy Days cow-milking contest receives a trophy from Culver's.
Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

Euerle gave pointers to the 17 other contestants about milking a cow with their bare hands into a Kemps Family Size ice cream tub. But milk wasn’t the only thing Star produced at the event.

“Cows also produce a lot of manure, as you can see today, and we store that manure,” Dan Caughey said. “And then every spring and every fall, we’ll spread that manure on the fields to fertilize our corn, so it’s basic recycling down out on the farm.”

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Carrie Allord of the Farm Bureau was a first-time participant in the milking contest and took home the first-place trophy with 5.9 ounces.

Carrie Allord
Carrie Allord
Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

“I did not trash talk anybody,” Allord said while laughing after she was named the winner. “I was out for the sheriff and the Baxter police. We had to beat them.”

Ruud doubled the amount of milk she collected at Culver’s Dairy Days in 2019 while Speier collected 0.2 ounces.

“I haven’t milked a dairy cow in a very long time … but it was a lot of fun,” Allord said afterward. “Two hands — you’ve got to use both hands to get it in the bucket — that’s the goal.“

Got milk?

  • ​Milk is the only food that you can survive on alone. It has every nutrient you need.
  • ​The world's population consumes over 2.1 billion liters every day. That’s enough to fill up 813 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
  • ​Dairy cows are social animals. Like people, they will make friends and bond with some, while avoiding others.
  • ​A cow turns grass into milk within two to three days. Depending on the breed, a cow can make between 6.5 to 10.5 gallons of milk per day.

Source: National Today.

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL .

I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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