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A Little Girl at a Big Expo – My WDE Experience

Abigail at WDEThe World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin—oh, where to begin. 2012 was my first year attending the Expo, as well as my first official business trip as the new Fodder Specialist. Holy moly was I unprepared. Not professionally, of course, I knew I could handle any question a customer threw at me but for weeks around the office I heard, “It’s a pretty big show so get ready!” Let me clarify that this is the UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR!

Kathy and I landed in Madison on Monday. When we arrived at the Alliant Energy Center, fresh from our plane, we set right to work setting up our booth in the Arena building. I felt bad for Kathy because she kept having to redirect my focus back to our booth. “Earth to Abigail” was repeated every five minutes. I just couldn’t stop staring at the huge booths and great setups. My mouth was agape at the grandeur of it all.

FarmTek at WDE
Our booth didn’t take more than an hour or two to set up so we figured we would walk the grounds a bit. Being it was my first time at the Expo, plus with the curious little girl that still lives inside me, I wanted to see it all. From the Arena building we went to the Exhibition Hall and I found out why Kathy kept calling me back to Earth while we were setting up. The Arena building was miniscule compared to the Exhibition Hall. The displays were enormous. From Altra-Air Fans to full milking parlors, WDE seemed to offer it all.

Throughout the week, the Exhibition Hall was our go-to place. From “The Purple Cow Gift Shop” to the great cheese and ice cream vendors, it was the place to be. Outside the Exhibition Hall was “The Coffee Wagon.” Thanks to this marvelous little cart, I was able to survive my withdrawal from Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

Monday was spent walking around and taking in the sights. All the barns were full of show cows, so of course we took a gander. The beautiful animals were just lounging lazily, enjoying the cool Wisconsin breeze. We checked out the Coliseum and I knew I would be returning frequently to watch the shows throughout the week.

FarmTek booth at WDETuesday was the first day of the show, full of school kids coming with their schools and 4-H groups. It was a fast day full of questions. A lot of schools are using fodder as an educational tool so it was nice to be able to interact with students and teachers, to show them how this basic system can benefit everyone. Before I knew it 5 o’clock rolled around and we headed off to the Coliseum to watch the Milking Shorthorns and Guernsey shows.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday brought on the farmers and boy were there a lot of them. The FarmTek booth was in overdrive answering questions about the Fodder-Pro Feed System. We went through almost 100 DOZEN pairs of our dot grip gloves and we ran out! That’s just how busy we were. The only downside to this incredible demand on our booth was that I wasn’t able to get that personal, one-on-one time with customers I was speaking with. There were just too many! So, if you were at the show, and I missed you, my sincerest apologies but THANKS for stopping by!

FarmTek was the only company there with a working fodder system, so people were ecstatic to be able to see it in operation. They loved that they were able to see and feel the barley fodder, from roots to shoots. From the preparation of the seeds to harvesting of the material, our customers were able to get hands-on experience. Watching them do this reminded me of just how new a concept fodder is to the majority of farmers, as well as what a delight I feel being able to work with both farmers and this system.

Yes, Kathy and I were also able to view the Red & White and Jersey shows in the Coliseum but, for the most part our week was Expo – hotel – dinner – hotel – Expo. With our booth packed daily, we were pretty sleepy by the evening hours. Even vendors in booths around us commented on how upbeat and excited Kathy and I were. Our response was, “Why wouldn’t we be excited?” At the Expo we had the opportunity to be face-to-face with our customers, something that happens very infrequently in the world of catalog companies. What could be better?

I can’t wait to return to the World Dairy Expo next year for “The Center of the Dairy Universe.” Of course, another big THANK YOU to all the customers who stopped by and, to those who may have gotten lost in the mix, my utmost apologies. For those that missed out, in 2013 we will definitely bring more dot grip gloves!

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