A celebration and salute to farmers returns with the Barron County Dairy Breakfast on Saturday, June 6, at Hillsdale Dairy. Serving is 6–11 a.m. on the farm, located at 815 Hwy. 25, a half-mile north of Hillsdale.
On the menu is all-you-can-eat pancakes, with real maple syrup and butter, all-Wisconsin omelet, applesauce, deep-fried cheese curds, Culver’s frozen custard sundaes, milk and coffee.
Activities include horse-drawn wagon rides, antique tractors and machinery on display, door prizes and a self-guided farm tour.
Admission to the event is a freewill offering.
Hosting the event is the Ben and Sandee Kraft family.
Ben grew up on the farm, which was purchased by Ervin Jr. and Carol Kraft in 1981. Ervin Jr. grew up on a farm in Fond du Lac County, and after completing a dairy short course at University of Wisconsin-Madison, got a job as herdsman at Sugar Bol Farms near Chetek.
They looked all over the state for a farm of their own. They had a farm lined up in Taylor County, but that deal fell through, and they ended up with about 140 acres along Hwy. 25.
Despite the traffic, the location had its advantages.
“The milk man can always get in. The road is always plowed,” said Ervin.
The place had a barn and a brown shed. They put up a new shed after a bad storm in 2001.
That storm also impacted the barn, and in 2003 they had to take all of the hay out to get the barn reset after it fell off its foundation.
The other tough year was, of course, 1988 when a prolonged drought hit the Midwest.
“We tend to prefer a dry year to a wet year, but I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life, when everything shrivels up and dies,” said Ervin.
There have always been around 40 or 50 cows in the barn, a mix of Holsteins, Jerseys, Guernseys and even a few Dutch Belted.
But the tractors have been almost exclusively John Deere, including some ‘50s and ‘60s models that are still on the farm today.
Ben and Sandee officially took ownership of the farm in 2017. They have help running it from their three sons, Clayton, Wesley and Matthew, who range from 14 to 20 years of age.
This is the 46th annual Barron County Dairy Breakfast. No event was held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the state some dairy breakfasts are reemerging, while others are cancelled, including the Tri-County Dairy Breakfast normally held in Spooner.
Volunteers from the Prairie Farm Lions and Hungry Hollow will have wagons to shuttle people from the event parking area on Saturday.
Kim Barta, of the Barron County Dairy Promoters, said they expect a big turnout at Hillsdale Dairy. Volunteers are still needed. Call Barta at 715-418-1631 for more information.