This past Wednesday, July 18, the MSU Archives and Historical Collections were invited to return to
an event we have participated in for a number of years: the Great Dairy Adventure! The Dairy Adventure happens in tandem with the Michigan Dairy Expo, a four-day celebration of all things dairy-related. Hundreds of children came from around the area to the MSU Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education in order to learn about how dairy affects the Michigan economy, the processes which take place to make our dairy products, and the value of such products to our health. There were crafts to make cheese “bugs” and painted cows, as well as multiple farmers to ask questions from and to teach the attendees how to milk a cow. Across the aisle from the Archives’ booth there seemed to be a competition for most popular exhibit, between the free Country Fresh ice cream, yogurt, and chocolate milk, and the cow with the port hole in her side – a harmless plug in the cow’s stomach (rumen compartment), which allowed children and adults to either look in and see the animal’s stomach contents or actually stick a gloved hand in and feel around! Needless to say, we saw some people with mixed feelings about personally infiltrating a cow’s stomach, but the kids were fascinated.
The Archives were there with a couple of entertaining handouts for the children and adults to take home. We offered a variety of free postcards with old MSU scenes, the favorite of which among the kids was probably the greased pig competition from 1948. There was also a pamphlet, “Dairy Adventure Press,” for the visitors to learn about past MSU dairying practices, as well as do some fun dairy-related activities. The mini newsletter had some facts about MSU’s scientific pioneers, Manly Miles, G. Malcolm Trout, and Clinton D. Smith, and it also contained a brief history of the college’s world record cow, Belle Sarcastic. Many of the daycare groups and children’s camps went home with the brochure to do the dairy word search, maze, Belle Sarcastic coloring corner, and create-your-own ice cream advertisement as follow-up activities. The day was without a doubt a success, and hopefully some visitors went home knowing a little bit more about the history and process of dairying!