June Dairy Month is just around the corner, but with most dairy breakfasts in Wisconsin canceled or postponed, it’s a guarantee that celebrating it won’t look quite the same.
The same goes for the 32nd annual Pepin County Town and Country Dairy Breakfast, which has canceled its on-farm breakfast slated to have been held at Weiss Family Farms in Durand.
That doesn’t mean that the county is missing out on a dairy-filled breakfast next month, though, even if the method of delivery has had to change.
As an alternative to the on-farm breakfast, which is now planned to be held at Weiss Family Farms again in 2021, the Pepin County Dairy Promotion Council is hosting a free drive-thru breakfast on June 20, the same day that the on-farm event was initially scheduled to be on.
While not the traditional mode of delivery, the drive-thru is something the committee is planning to make a “100% honest attempt” at, said T.J. Poeschel, member of the Pepin County Dairy Promotion Council.
With the dairy industry and agriculture in a difficult situation, Poeschel said, the committee was looking for any way they could still show support amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have to do something,” Poeschel said.
Don Weiss, whose farm was initially scheduled to host next month, said that after the on-farm event was canceled, he proposed to the committee that they needed to still have a way to promote dairy products during a month traditionally dedicated to celebrating all things dairy.
The committee ultimately decided to go with the concept of the drive-thru breakfast, although they’ve also made and plan to make other dairy donations in the community as well.
Weiss said that he thought the drive-thru option was a “phenomenal idea.”
Weiss credited the county’s dairy promotion committee as being “very proactive for dairy” and said that they deserved “a pat on the back” for the work they’ve been doing to keep promoting their dairy products.
Instead of coming to the farm for the breakfast, two drive-thru locations at Eau Galle Cheese northwest of Durand on Highway 25 and Komro Sales & Service east of Durand on Highway 85 will be set up.
The drive-thru will still include dairy breakfast staples such as butter, milk, cheese, sausage and pancake mix, but instead of being prepared on site, participants will be given a bag with the ingredients to take home and make for themselves.
It’s a way for the committee to keep “real dairy products” in the hands of the consumers, Poeschel said.
Plans are to offer 600 bags with enough ingredients to feed a family of four, Poeschel said, and larger families can request more than one bag.
Items included in the breakfast are purchased locally, Poeschel said, including from businesses like Eau Galle Cheese, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, AMPI, Grassland Dairy and The Durand Smokehouse.
The Pepin County breakfast, which does not charge a fee, runs on local financial support.
While locals will indeed get their opportunity to enjoy a dairy breakfast next month and can show their support for the dairy industry, they’ll still be missing out on the on-farm experience that can often be as equally important as the meal itself.
This year, plans for virtual elements and tours that can be participated in safely from the confines of a home are being included in the dairy breakfast, but it won’t be same as having kids eager to learn and others who want to see how farms operate physically present on the farm and being able to educate them that way, Weiss said.
That educational piece of these events typically gives the host farm an opportunity to make a lasting impression on attendees and demonstrate the farm’s values.
“We want to get the people detached from farming back attached to it,” Weiss said.
They also want to “show the rest of the world we’re doing things the way the should be done” and the care they have for their animals, he added.
Like many in-person events that have been pushed into another format due to COVID-19, that experience can be hard or impossible to truly replicate digitally or otherwise.
But with Weiss Family Farms’ agreement return as host, something the committee is “very excited” about, Poeschel said, they hope to be able to get back to teaching kids and making connections on the farm next year.
Any updates on this year’s drive-thru breakfast will be posted on the Pepin County Dairy Promotion Council Facebook page and communicated via radio or newspaper advertising. Questions can also be directed to Pepin County Dairy Promotion Council Chairman Randy Koller at 715-577-4892.