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‘Colorful Cows’ benefit Ohio fair’s junior fair dairy effort


MILLERSBURG, Ohio — Cows of another color – nearly every color, in fact – found a place among the Jerseys, Holsteins, Brown Swiss, and Ayrshires at the Holmes County Junior Fair dairy show, now in its third year at its new location.

Known as the Holmes County Fair at Harvest Ridge, the new complex of buildings is home to multiple species of livestock. But it seemed like the dairy projects were overlooked, as they were housed in an annex of the livestock barn and off the meandering path around the fairgrounds.

With a small, but high-quality junior fair dairy show, parents and advisors were looking for ways to attract fair visitors to the barn. And with that, “Colorful Cows” came to life.

Brandi Schlauch, a teacher, advisor, and parent of junior fair dairy exhibitors, saw an article about a similar exhibit by the Rock County Dairy Promotion Council in Progressive Dairyman and proposed the idea to the dairy clubs in the county.

“The fair visitors didn’t know where we were,” she explained. “We were trying to find a way to advertise where the dairy cows were located.”

Seven clubs in the county participated in the project and Schlauch was really surprised with the creativity that went in to the plywood cows. Not only did the 4-H clubs support the project, but two local businesses stepped up to offer aid as well.

Schlauch said they received a financial donation from Lisa Grassbaugh, with Ameriprise Financial Services – a former junior fair dairy exhibitor herself and parent of current exhibitors – toward the purchase of the plywood, and Keim Lumber offered its services to cut out the cows.

“This was definitely a joint effort between the parents and the club members,” she noted.

She said it was impressive to see the thought and care that went into designing and painting the cows, as some were colorful, some were humorous, and others were designed to promote the dairy industry itself.

Schlauch designed the pattern for the cutout, based on a cow figure that had been on their barn as well as photos of ideal cows for the design. Once she was satisfied with her design, she cut a pattern from cardboard. Initially she and her husband, Aaron, had planned to cut out the cows with a router, but Keim said it could use a computer image and cut out the shapes with a computer-guided saw.

“Aaron called various businesses to see if anyone had the capability to cut out the cows,” she said. “Keim Lumber gave us a good price to cut out the cows.”

Grassbaugh got involved because she grew up showing dairy cattle and it was in her blood. “My son is involved in the dairy program,” she added. “This is a good program; it is good for the kids. They do a lot of work and they should be rewarded for their work.”

During the junior fair livestock auction the cows were auctioned off, with the winning bidder getting their choice of the decorated cows. Bill and Bev Wachtel of Springwalk Farm, longtime advisors with the Nashville Jolly Farmers and dairy exhibitors, selected a cow with scenes from around the Holmes County Fairgrounds. The cow had been designed and painted by Schlauch and, following an additional coat of protective sealant, would be used in their annual Christmas exhibit.

Proceeds from the sale of the colorful cow went back to the junior fair dairy exhibitors.