June Dairy Days advance with technology, equipment
Portage County’s 37th annual June Dairy Brunch and open farm will be held at Groshek Farms from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 18.
Groshek Farms is located at 3271 Sky View Road, Amherst Junction. They last hosted June Dairy Days in 2008. The farm is located east of Stevens Point off County Trunk K between Highways 10 and 161.
Groshek Farms originated in 1948, but has grown and become more technologically advanced, and beginning in 2014 they began having robots and automatic sweepers.
The robotic milkers will be running the entire time, showing attendees how they work to milk the cows. The automatic sweepers push feed to the cows every four hours. These technological advancements help the farm be more efficient.
“It’s about as advanced as you can get as far as milking cows,” said Keith Groshek of Groshek Farms.
Throughout the years, Groshek Farms has grown. In 1988, more land was purchased north of Highway 161 and more sheds and silos were added in 1982 and 2010. This family keeps the calves instead of sending them away to get raised on a different farm. In the past they milked about 115 cows, but they now raise 220 because of the new procedures.
Groshek and Donna Altmann, co-chair of Portage County Dairy Committee, agree that smaller farms are important because they keep the money local.
“We just need to keep this going because it just seems like we impact so many people by helping fund our communities, we help create so many jobs for people in Wisconsin,” Altmann said.
June Dairy Days is far from being just a tour of a farm; it also boasts free events throughout the day such as an education tent, free samples from local businesses and hay rides.
“Once they’ve been here with their family, with our Ag Olympics going on, the children always remember that, and the hay rides they want to come back (to) every year,” Altmann said.
Having been involved with the committee since it began, Altmann has seen it all. This event has gotten bigger and bigger every year; they now plan for 4,000 people, she said.
Last year, they had the chair and co-chair do the Ag Olympics after everyone else had gone through. The Ag Olympics are for children ages 4 to 12 and may consist of wheelbarrow races and squirting milk into pails.
There is also the educational tent where children will be able to learn about the dairy farms, as well as receive free books.
Altmann said attendees enjoy getting out of the city for a while and being able to play and eat. There will be everything from face painting to free strawberry sundaes to keep children entertained.
The brunch consists of pancakes, pure maple syrup, fresh cheese curds and more. They ask for a donation of $6 for adults and $2 for children ages 6 to 10. The brunch is free to children 5 and younger.
It takes a lot of volunteers and many hours of work to make this event possible. Altmann said the Portage County Dairy Committee only meets four times a year, so much of the planning is done outside the committee meetings.
This year parking has changed, handicap parking will be across the street and all others will be parking by the robot farm. Although this is within walking distance, a tram will be available for those who wish to ride.