Dairyfest, a community tradition
The history of the event and what’s coming up this year
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — Dairyfest has been a Marshfield tradition since 1981. The event began as an idea forged by former Marshfield Mayor Marilyn Hardacre, Elmer Frey, and Les Leonard. At its inception Dairyfest was a single event, a breakfast, which served 100 people.
Since that time Dairyfest has grown into a weekend-long series of events that brings an estimated 15,000 visitors for Marshfield to witness theSaturday parade alone. Multiple organizations stage events throughout the weekend, and for many of them, Dairyfest serves as a major fundraiser, said Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MACCI) program director Deb Bauer.
“It’s easier to say who’s not involved with Dairyfest rather than who is involved,” Bauer said. MACCI serves as the main organizer of the event.
This year Dairyfest begins on Thursday, May 28, with “Carnival at the Mall,” which will offer rides, games, and food. Dairyfest concludes onSunday, May 31, and the last event of the weekend is a golf skills challenge at the Marshfield Country Club driving range. In between are events that range from a skateboard camp at the Marshfiled Skatepark to an ice cream social put on by the North Wood County Historical Society at Upham Mansion in Marshfield.
Aside from an opportunity for local organizations to raise funds, Bauer said Dairyfest serves as an economic injection for the entire Marshfield community.
“You look at people that are in town spending money. Maybe they’re staying at hotels. They’re eating, so it really is a good thing for the whole community,” Bauer said. She added that business sponsorships are a big part of funding the operation of Dairyfest and bringing entertainment to town.
“Dairyfest, I always say, is truly a community service project that we do,” Bauer said. “It’s our way of giving back to the community because the community has given so much to us.”
This year’s theme is “Dancing with the Steers,” which will be incorporated by each unit in the parade.
“We’re getting (parade) units this year that haven’t participated in years because they say it’s so easy … to follow. I mean who can’t be dancing in the street?”
New events this year include the aforementioned skateboard camp, a coed softball tournament at the Marshfield Fairgrounds, and a cornhole tournament also held at the Fairgrounds. Bauer said some of the signature events of the weekend include the Friday morning Mayor’s Breakfast held at the Marshfield Fairgrounds Expo Building; Picnic in the Park, which is held Friday night at Columbia Park and is geared towards families with young children; and the Saturday morning parade that starts at the corner of Second Street and Central Avenue in Marshfield.
Bauer said that her favorite part of the weekend is seeing the parade route lined with thousands of spectators waiting for the event to begin.
“When the American Legion steps off and gets this whole thing started, you just get chills,” Bauer said.
For a full listing of Dairyfest events, go to visitmarshfield.com/dairyfest. Marshfield Community Television records and broadcasts the entire parade live. To tune in visit marshfieldtv.com or watch on Charter cable channel 991. The parade will also be rebroadcast on the channel throughout the summer and available anytime for streaming online.